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Researching global inequality

18 August 2011

Social Sciences postgraduate Roderick Galam has taken part in the prestigious Brown International Advanced Research Institutes, courtesy of Santander Universities.

Roderick’s research studies international labour migration from the perspective of those who are "left behind", particularly the wives of Filipino seafarers. The Development and Inequality Institute, held at the Brown University in Rhode Island, USA this summer, seemed a perfect forum to develop some of the questions he had.

The Brown International Advanced Research Institutes are held every summer, supported by Santander Universities, to bring together young researchers and practitioners to address pressing global issues. The Development and Inequality Institute explored the impact of inequality on the development across regions of the global south.

Roderick BiariSome of the Development and Inequality Institute attending at Brown University. Roderick Galam is in the front row, second from the right.

Selection for the Institutes is extremely competitive, with more than 1500 applications for 150 places on the four institutes held this summer. Roderick submitted a research proposal based on his fieldwork in the Philippines. He had seen how many fishermen recruited to work on international vessels ended up exploited and abused, often unpaid and abandoned in Taiwan. Roderick’s proposal aimed to examine further how fishermen and their families rebuilt their lives after these experiences, often without any government assistance.

Roderick, a Nippon Foundation Postgraduate Fellow at Cardiff, was one of just 40 selected to take part in the Institute. He attended lectures given by international academics on a number of aspects of development and inequality. Workshops also examined the research proposals in detail, led, in Roderick’s case, by Professor Gianpaolo Baiocchi of Brown University and Professor Tania Li of the University of Toronto.

Roderick commented: "I had a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from a lot of different people from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The participants and the co-ordinators provided intense, committed, passionate but collegial debate about issues surrounding inequality.

"The Institute gave me the chance to meet an author I very much admire, Matthew Gutmann, who is now vice-president for international affairs at Brown University. I also met Chinua Achebe, a much-respected writer and intellectual from Africa whose novels I have read."

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Roderick has just submitted his research thesis, and is hoping the experience at the Institute will help in his future research career. He said: "I was introduced to a lot of authors, ideas, perspectives and research methodologies in other disciplines. I fully intend to read more about ‘sub-national comparative method’ which I think is going to be very useful to me. I have made good contacts in many parts of the world and I believe there is potential for future collaboration."

Santander Universities is a unique global initiative to support higher education as a means to the development and prosperity of society. More than 900 universities in 14 countries, including Cardiff, are now members of the Santander Universities network.