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Session 6B-6D 09:30-11:00 // day one

6B - Beliefs & Ideologies University of Warwick and Monash University Australia

In 1786 the French government exhumed an estimated two million corpses from the Holy Innocents’ Cemetery in Paris. Some of the bodies were transported to underground catacombs; others were reburied in large garden cemeteries outside the city.

Recent research has revealed a profound change in attitudes to death in eighteenth-century France. Richard Etlin has described changes in cemetery architecture as reflective and constructive of attitudes to mortality. Phillipe Airès has traced the emergence of a pre-Romantic conception of death after 1500. Consensus has emerged that the closing of Innocents’ cemetery, previously attributed to sanitation concerns caused by overcrowding, reflects this widespread shift in public attitude.

This historical narrative deals with theological and philosophical reflections on mortality in post seventeenth-century Europe. It does not explain interactions between the living gravediggers at Innocents’ and the corpses they exhumed. Conclusions drawn from research into philosophies on mortality have been applied in blanket form to account for interactions between living and dead. This research will adopt a different analytical framework, using Innocents’ Cemetery as a case study, to build upon and complement previous research into attitudes to mortality. The methods of exhumation of corpses at Innocents’, and the wider historical contexts of the exhumation, will be analysed using government records and secondary literature. This research intends to test the contemporary assumption that physical interactions between living and dead reflected the sentiment of philosophies of mortality, working towards a revised analytical framework for historical studies of mortality.

The increasing opposition to immigrants is worrisome and confronts institutions with the challenge to enhance social cohesion. This paper focuses on attitudes towards immigrants (ATI) as they are important drivers of electoral outcomes and legislation (Citrin, 2007). In the literature, the debate around the factors underlying ATI is dominated by economic and cultural threat explanations. This literature has been criticised for its stagnation and its overreliance on the threat explanation (Ceobanu and Escandell, 2010).

Exchanges between psychology and economics have been shown to lead to more accurate measures and better direction for policy intervention (Borghans et al., 2008), therefore the present research uses methods and insights from personality psychology to develop a better understanding of the forces underlying ATI. Building on a burgeoning literature that documents broad-ranging effects of personality, I incorporate personality, as measured by the Big Five Personality Traits model, into the analysis of ATI. This paper seeks to demonstrate the robustness of the explanatory power of personality in various ways. Firstly, it shows that the omission of personality traits yields biased estimates of common predictors of ATI such as education and income. Secondly, this study gets closer to causality by making the first steps towards addressing the endogenous nature of personality.

My results suggest that ATI are a product of both predisposing and situational factors. This in itself is an important finding that advances the way we think of ATI conceptually. Furthermore, the IV estimates are substantial, suggesting that personality plays a more important role than once thought. Although my instruments suffer from several shortcomings, the magnitude of my results emphasises the intrinsically subjective nature of ATI. I suggest instruments and natural experiments that better satisfy the exogeneity condition. I believe that the causality claim merits future attention and could revolutionise policy interventions aimed at enhancing social cohesion.

There is a deficiency in the literature regarding Serbian cultural perceptions towards contraception. Unofficial estimates state that between 150,000 and 200,000 abortions are performed in Serbia annually (Pekusic, 2012). In a country with just over 7 million people, Serbia has the highest abortion rate in Europe.

By region, Australia has the third largest population of Serbians (IOM, 2008). In Australia, it is estimated that between a third and a quarter of all women will have an abortion (ABC, 2017). This raises the question of why, with a standardised sexuality course across all government high schools in Australia (Victoria State Government, 2017) and access to a wide variety of contraceptives, are women opting in such high numbers for this form of contraception?

I aim to investigate Serbian women’s attitudes towards contraception by conducting a review of the existing literature and a survey of Serbian women living in Melbourne. The outcome will be a research paper considering cultural perceptions regarding contraception, which will be presented in a Monash University subject titled Fertility Regulation.

Australia is a multicultural country, and a standard ‘one approach fits all’ in terms of contraception discourse – whether it be in an educational or medical setting – will not achieve the desired outcomes. We need to understand people’s cultural biases to advance as a society. This also has far reaching economic implications as it results in increased personal and government healthcare costs. The findings from this study may be used as a springboard for further future research and policy recommendations.

The Divine Comedy is more than Dante’s imaginative representation of what the afterlife looked like according to Catholic doctrine; it serves as a vessel through which his contemporary world can be viewed and understood. One aspect of late mediaeval European life upon which Dante’s texts shed light is the attitudes towards crusading in Western Europe.

This presentation will explore how Dante’s insight into crusading reflects the realities of, and contemporary attitudes towards, the crusades from 1280 to 1330. Although references in the Divine Comedy are admittedly scarce, Dante manages to capture and convey the essence of contemporary crusading.

Among the issues that the Divine Comedy enables us to explore is what groups were viewed as legitimate targets of crusading activity, the calls for the launch of fresh crusades designed to free the Holy Land and the frustration with the lack of effective crusading activity. Dante’s views will be compared to those of his contemporaries to demonstrate that Dante’s notions of crusades mostly correlate to the generally held views in Western Christendom.

6C - Economics, Education and Cultures University of Warwick and Kyushu University

In recent years, education has spread throughout the world. Education is an essential base for people to live with free in society, for human rights and development of regions or countries. Almost all of the developed countries have their own original educational system. However, many less-developed countries do not have this, and they have to imitate what developed countries to do. For that reason, this paper will suggest how educational systems fit developing countries by analysing how developed countries educate and considering the good and bad points of these systems. If the government set the educational system by taking characteristics of their own countries into account, these countries would be able to inspire people to develop their own countries. Educated people will be able to develop countries from various fields – for example, industry, economy, politics and medical treatment. The development of a country enables people to acquire a better quality of life. Moreover, educational systems that fit regions will enable people to be able to develop their abilities and maximise them. People can broaden their own potential. In order to put abilities to use and get a good life, we should create educational systems to fit each region.

The last decade has seen China’s role in Africa increase drastically. Throughout the continent, significant Chinese investment has been prevalent within infrastructural projects, totalling over $200 billion in SSA since 2010. Tanzania is of particular interest due to the two countries’ historic ‘friendship’, dating back to the 1960s. It is also a nation that has received unparalleled educational investment since 2012, funding higher education ‘Confucian Institutes’ as well as building Primary and Secondary education facilities and promoting Chinese language and culture. Alongside these, a number of scholarships and stipends have been made available for Tanzanian students to study in China itself.

My project will detail the growing manifestations of Chinese influence in Tanzanian education, and reveal how these new education opportunities are perceived by Tanzanian recipients, using interviews, visits, archival research and secondary literature to support these insights. Moreover, these details can be used to surmise the contemporary Chinese influence within both education structures and wider society, and debate whether this educational investment can be considered a successful assertion of ‘soft power’.

A growth in contemporary interest over the last decade has ensured a significant increase in research focusing upon the China–Africa relationship. However, little has been produced regarding investment into education and other human resource projects. Additionally, discussions focused on China’s growing role in education are approached from a continental perspective, the consequence being that there are very few investigations of how Chinese educational investment is affecting individual nations while wider theories are prioritised. By narrowing the focus of this research onto one country, I hope to both improve the academic content regarding China’s growing influence within Tanzania, as well as provide a case study for an improved understanding of the context, motivations and consequences of increased Chinese involvement in African education.

This study investigates and estimates the extent to which peer-performance impacts personal-performance in Higher education. Analysing seminars at Warwick University’s Economics department, we estimate a linear-in-means model to study the correlation of average peer-performance to personal-performance, while employing student fixed-effects. We investigate non-linearity through functional form re-specification and also reproducing an identification strategy designed by Lavy (2012).

Overall we find increased peer-performance is systematically associated with improved personal-performance. Additionally, we find as average peer-performance increases, the marginal impact on personal-performance decreases. In comparison to contemporary studies on peer effects, our results run complementary with alternative identification methods in this field. We overall reaffirm the importance of peer effects in educational organisation. This suggests that modern-day academic practices such as ability sorting are inefficient to productivity.

Financial technology has revolutionised the credit acquisition process for SMEs. This paper extends existing research on secured lending into peer-to-business (P2B) platforms. Major theoretical models have conflicting predictions; collateral is viewed as a signalling device or an incentive device, depending on the lender’s ability to observe the default risk of the project. The former suggests secured borrowers are less likely to default, while the latter associates pledged collateral with higher-risk borrowers. A direct test is conducted between collateral and ex post default risk (probability of default). The study uses data on over 6000 completed loans facilitated through Funding Circle. Importantly, unlike much of current literature, a distinction is made between inside and outside collateral. Results show the latter is a superior signalling device; however, its signalling ability reduces for sufficiently small principal amounts. This is consistent with conjecture that P2B platforms suffer greater informational asymmetry problems than traditional credit markets.

6D - Intersection of Engineering and Biomedical Science University of Warwick and Nanyang Technological University

In recent years, the links with modular forms and other areas of mathematics are becoming increasingly evident. After their use in proving Fermat’s Last Theorem, they have been increasingly studied to see what other gems they may contain using the Langlands program.

Bianchi modular forms are very special as they are incredibly hard to visualise and work with concretely. Through extensive work by Yasaki and others, we now have explicit algorithms to compute them. The goal of the project is to understand the sharbly algorithm used in the computation of Bianchi modular forms, and implement a general version in the mathematical software Sage. This has plenty of arithmetic applications, since Bianchi modular forms are related via the Langlands program to elliptic curves over imaginary quadratic fields. So far, there is no open-source widely open implementation of this algorithm, which is currently only available in Magma. Having it available in Sage would allow more research to experiment with it. It will also serve as a first step towards more general algorithms related to other reductive groups.

Many researchers have very close links to this topic: Professor John Cremona and his students have been studying the computation of Bianchi modular forms using modular symbols, and Aurel Page has algorithms that compute fundamental domains for the groups that are involved in Bianchi modular forms. Having an open-source computational program in Sage would make the work of researchers much easier.

Astragalus membranaceus (黄芪, Huáng Qí, in Chinese) is one of the commonly used herbs in traditional Chinese medicine for enhancing the immune system and improving the general wellbeing. Clinically, A. membranaceus is also used to treat inflammation, diabetes and high cholesterol. Within the pool of peptides present in A. membranaceus, cysteine-rich peptides (CRPs) are hypothesised to be among the biologically orally active compounds present. Given the presence of multiple intra-molecular disulfide bonds, CRPs are stable against thermal, acidic and enzymatic degradation. Hence, this study aims to isolate and characterise a CRP present in A. membranaceus. Firstly, a CRP designated as astratide and abbreviated as aM1 is extracted from A. membranaceus roots and purified through multiple chromatographic steps. It is then identified through reduction-alkylation reactions. Its sequence is furthered determined by LC-MS/MS de novo sequencing and validated by transcriptomic data. Through stability assays, it is proven that aM1 is resistant to degradation by heat, acid and enzymes, including pepsin and aminopeptidase. Sequence alignment further illustrated its biosynthesis pathway, suggesting that aM1 is a homolog to Pea Albumin 1, subunit b (PA1b). It is thus likely to exhibit insulin-like properties, having effects on pancreatic β cells. Therefore, aM1 may become a potential candidate for a new class of orally administrated therapeutic against diabetes.

By combining Biomedical Anthropology and Engineering, the relationship between the natural sciences and arts will unveil how different cultures respond towards innovative engineering. Exploring different diseases and medical phenomena will allow us to understand how the branch of biomedicine has changed, in different parts of the world in order to ameliorate the quality of life – and where each method is applicable. The study of biomedical engineering in this field will draw attention to what components can influence health and well-being at low costs, and more importantly, where in the world biomedical engineering is a pressing need. For this reason, we shall be comparing different medical cultures against the West.

Biomedical Anthropology is a recent subfield that has emerged, and early studies provide its fundamentals. The research would like to use this information and apply it across regions of different backgrounds. People in different cultural environments experience a variety of health issues – with medication and treatment (mt) affected by factors such as moral and religious ideologies. Previous research has shown the impact of how medical anthropology has contributed towards the epidemiological and biomedical understanding of HIV in African Societies. Different approaches to aid this epidemic will allow engineers to retrieve information from different angles of thought and create more efficient products. The research will give an insight to what drugs and treatments are prevalent in particular regions. By understanding the culture of the country and its ideas towards mt, engineers will be able to construct, using data, products that help solve specific illnesses within the region.

Obesity is a growing epidemic, governing dominant discourses of public health within contemporary society due to its increasing economic burden and associated high mortality and morbidity rates. An understanding of how individuals perceive their health status is imperative in order to comprehend factors considered when rating health and the implications this has on wider government policy. This research takes a unique approach by focusing on characteristics of those most likely to have bad self-rated health, and to misclassify their health status within the UK, comparing the objective measure Body Mass Index (BMI), as a measure of obesity, with the subjective measure self-rated health. BMI can be a problematic measurement of obesity as it does not distinguish between lean and fat. However, it was used in this research due to being the most common measure of obesity by governments and policy-makers.

The Understanding Society dataset is used, derived from the UK Data Service. The ‘unworried ill’ (those who rate their health ‘good’ when obese), and the ‘worried well’ (those who rate their health ‘bad’ when not obese) are compared to those who correctly classify their health status. Cross tabulations, logistic and multinomial logistic regression are carried out. It is expected that differences will occur in conceptions of health based on demographic, behavioural and other attributes. These variations are not accounted for in public health policies, which assume an all-encompassing solution to ill health. As a result, current government policies are proving inefficient in meeting the nation’s needs, suggesting a need to guide future public health policy.