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13 December 2023

Faculty of Arts & Humanities launches innovative Activist-in-Residence Scheme

A new initiative run by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities seeks to explore mutually beneficial connections between activism and academic research.

Activist-in-Residence Scheme

The Activist-in-Residence Scheme, funded by the AHRC Impact Acceleration Account and overseen by the Impact and Knowledge Exchange Team in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, has provided grants totalling £20,000 to four projects and for researchers based in research institutes or centres to work with activists to tackle key societal challenges. Projects will run until December 2024.

A recently concluded pilot project for the scheme saw Dr Sebastian Matzner (Department of Classics / Languages, Literatures and Cultures) team up with ParaPride, a charity that advocates for the visibility, education, and awareness of LGBTQ+ disabled people. Their partnership led to a number of stimulating ventures, including a ‘takeover’ of a London theatre and the development of ParaPride Digitals: Our Stories, an online storytelling project focused on exploring the intersectionality of being LGBTQ+ and disabled.

Performers face the audience during the curtain call at ParaPride Stratford Circus Arts Centre Takeover held in February 2020
Performers face the audience during the curtain call at ParaPride Stratford Circus Arts Centre Takeover held in February 2020


Dr Reza-Zia Ebrahimi, a reader in the Department of History, reflects upon the possibilities presented by his Race Across the Channel project, which will take place later this academic year.

Thanks to the activist-in-residence scheme, I’ll be working with French antiracist activists and popular podcasters Rokhaya Diallo and Grace Ly to compare approaches to discussing race, inequalities, and discrimination in the two countries. Our goal is cross-border knowledge sharing to strengthen antiracism through a series of podcasts and other content, fill a gap in understanding between France and the UK, and provide legitimacy for the activists who face pushback in France.

Dr Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, Reader in the History of Nationalism and Race

Activist-in-Residence schemes, which see social and political activists reside in and work at academic institutions, are increasingly gaining traction in the UK as ways for researchers and activists to think collaboratively and expansively about how to solve pressing social issues. By promoting a culture of social responsibility, strengthening community engagement, and enriching academic research with practical insights, such initiatives possess rich potential to secure positive impacts, both within the academy and beyond.

The following four Activist-in-Residence projects are running:

  • Race Across the Channel. Identifies and challenges the discursive strategies used by media and political elites in France and the UK to counter antiracist scholarship. Dr Reza Zia-Ebrahimi (History), Rokhaya Diallo and Grace Ly (writers, journalists and activists).
  • Rebel by Default. Explores the lived expertise and change-making capacities of women living with HIV. Dr Katharine Low (GKT School of Medical Education/Centre for Education), Dr Ella Parry-Davies (English/Centre for Humanities and Health) and Positively UK.
  • Reimagining Language Justice through the Art of Translation. Investigates issues of language injustice and political domination. Dr Sanja Perovic (Languages, Literatures and Cultures), Dr Rosa Mucignat (Languages, Literatures and Cultures) and Cristina Viti (professional translator).
  • Moving/homing by kindredpacket. A project focused on examining intersections between home, movement and digital technologies among people from an East and Southeast Asian background. Dr Wing-Fai Leung (Culture, Media & Creative Industries), Dr Jonathan Gray (Digital Humanities) and David Kam (movement artist and teacher).

To find out more about the Activist-in-Residence scheme, email the Faculty's Impact & Knowledge Exchange team at

In this story

Sebastian Matzner

Reader in Ancient & Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi

Reader in the History of Nationalism and Race

Ella Parry-Davies

Lecturer in Theatre, Performance and Critical Theory

Sanja Perovic

Reader in 18th-century French studies

Rosa Mucignat

Reader in Comparative Literature

Wing-Fai Leung

Reader in Cultural and Media Industries

Jonathan W. Y. Gray

Senior Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies