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LUF research grants for two anthropologists

Annemarie Samuels and Andrew Littlejohn, Assistant Professors at the Leiden Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, have both been awarded a Leiden University Fund research grant. Samuels will use the grant to kickstart a multi-sited ethnographic study of care at the end of life. Littlejohn aims to investigate the role of “rural turners” and digital technologies in Japan’s depopulating regions.

Global Palliative Care: A Multi-Sited Ethnographic Study of Care at the End of Life - Annemarie Samuels

Palliative care is a professional form of end-of-life care that emerged in the 1960s in the United Kingdom. It addresses not only the physical suffering of patients but also their social, psychological and spiritual suffering. Palliative care has become well established in several high-income countries, and international attention to developing palliative care on a global scale is now increasing. Given this globalising process, it is essential that we know how palliative care practices translate across different cultural contexts. With a LUF-Gratama project grant, Annemarie Samuels will kick-start a research project to address this issue.

In this project, Samuels will gather qualitative empirical data on availability and access to palliative care, national policy and health insurance, and alternative forms of medical and non-medical end-of-life care in India and Indonesia – countries with emerging palliative care provisions. Her research will be based on participant observation and semi-structured interviews with palliative care policymakers, specialists, activists and academics.  

New Digital Ruralities: The Role of “Rural Turners” and Digital Technologies in Transforming Japan’s Depopulating Regions - Andrew Littlejohn

Depopulating rural areas is a serious issue worldwide. In Europe, immigration still offsets declining fertility rates; Japan, historically more closed, has seen a more precipitous decline. Many villages, officials believe, will disappear, and concern is growing over how to both fund services for their elderly residents and slow or reverse depopulation. and with what consequences for relationships between peripheries and urban centers.

“Rural turners” are urbanites that, tired of city life and desiring alternatives to late-modern capitalism, migrate to Japan’s rural areas; the phenomenon, broadly defined, also includes companies, particularly in the IT space, establishing satellite offices in remote regions increasingly outfitted with high-speed internet infrastructure. With Japan’s population, especially in agrarian districts, in free fall, municipalities are pouring resources into attracting them, believing they will both slow the rate of decline and create new, more sustainable economic models—including “postcapitalist” ones—for not only aging localities but also Japan as a whole.

Through longitudinal participant observation and qualitative interviews with rural turners and members of the populations they implant in, as well as descriptive quantitative analysis of their social networks, Andrew Littlejohn's aim is to investigate what impacts their social and economic programs are actually having.

Once a year the Leiden University Fund awards grants for scientific projects of Leiden University researchers, varying from € 5,000 to € 25,000. These grants for academic talent are often an important step towards grants by NWO and other institutions. Andrew Littlejohn has been awarded € 5.250 for his research. Annemarie Samuels has been awarded € 15.972 for her research.  

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