Welcome to our newest CRFR Co-Directors, Michelle King-Okoye and Kaveri Qureshi!
NEW CRFR DIRECTORS
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Please share with us a little about yourself and your background!
I am Michelle King-Okoye and am currently a Lecturer in Nursing Studies, School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh. I have worked across a number of clinical settings ranging from cancer care, critical care, emergency care and post-operative cardiac care for both paediatric and adult patients. I have been privileged to interact with patients and families from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Between 2020-2022 I had the pleasure of leading a consortium of international academics and researchers across developing and developed countries, focusing on COVID-19 research and other activities for ethnic minority communities. During this time, I also worked as a COVID-19 Tracing Practitioner for NHS Scotland. At the moment I sit on the Equality Diversity and Inclusion committee, Research Knowledge Exchange committee; and Research Ethics committee for the School.
I am Kaveri Qureshi, Senior Lecturer at the Global Health Policy Unit, based in the Social Policy subject area, School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. I am a qualitative researcher and have been interviewing and doing ethnographic research around intersections of health experiences, families and relationships for two decades now. I have worked on families, relationships and care in contexts of challenges of ill health, divorce and new parenthood. Most of my work has been with racially minoritised South Asians in the UK on the one hand, and on the other in South Asia. I earlier taught at the University of St Andrews, and before that at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
What are your research interests related to families and relationships?
My current research focuses on two of the CRFR core themes: health, illness and wellbeing and environment and sustainability. You can read some of my research here.
I am currently conducting research focusing on students with caring responsibilities to identify facilitators and barriers to learning in higher education and optimum wellbeing. The objective is to develop a toolkit to support this sub-group of students. The study examines different stages of students’ journey, such as planning for pregnancy whilst in higher education, experiences of being pregnant during part-time or full-time study and balancing studies whilst caring for small children and/or relatives as paid or unpaid carers.
In past research, I explored the role that partners play during the trajectory of care for men with prostate cancer, as they navigate symptom experience, help-seeking, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care and impact on family life and relationships. Using a cultural lens, I explored the various types of relationships that facilitate or hinder help-seeking for men with prostate symptoms across two islands.
Relating to the environment and sustainability, together with colleagues, I am currently working on the impact of climate change for ethnic minority communities. This includes families who become displaced during crises events. We are exploring the complexities of using artificial intelligence to meet the humanitarian needs of families in disaster preparedness. It is increasingly clear that people from ethnic minority communities face unique challenges during crises events, however, research literature on this is scarce. You can read more about this in a few book chapters published here.
Via an international collaboration, we are conducting a systematic review examining the physiological impact of COVID-19 on racially minoritized pregnant women and newborns. We are focusing on the prevalence and morbidity of COVID-19 in racially minoritized pregnant women and the types of maternal and perinatal complications that result.
I also have an interest in the impact of unconscious bias and racism for ethnic minority families as a unit and hope to discuss this in a future blog, so please watch this space!
My most recent major project was co-editing a special issue of Contemporary South Asia on Muslim women in South Asian contexts, with Patricia Jeffery. That collaboration brought together established and early-career scholars working on South Asian Muslim women’s everyday lives in Muslim-majority countries of South Asia, and from Muslim-minority countries including India, the UK and South Africa. It starts with some papers, including my own, on Muslim women’s legal agency with respect to the family, then moves on to papers on claims-making upon the state; livelihoods and reconciling paid and unpaid reproductive work; and the impact of male outmigration on so-called ‘left-behind’ wives. Together, the papers show the interrelations between the domains of everyday life that we explore, that is to say how women’s vulnerabilities in their families dovetail with the oppressions they experience in relation to the local state, the labour market, and in the streets.
I am currently co-editing a book, with Hadia Majid, Ghazal Zulfiqar and Karin Siegmann, bringing together academic and activist writings on how gender shapes productive and reproductive work in Pakistan. I am also co-editing a book, with Shalini Grover, on divorce in globalized Asia. My own writing will mostly be focusing on those collaborative projects.
I am also writing about the UK context. With CRFR-affiliated PhD student Pooja Marwaha, I am writing about the policing of interfaith and interracial marriages and same-sex desires among British South Asians. Together with Tanvi Rai and Anna Dowrick, I am writing new papers based on our interview study on diverse experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, thinking about the illness as managed and cared for in everyday domestic contexts.
What are you most looking forward to in your role as a Co-Director?
I was delighted to accept this role last autumn, to work with our fantastic team of Co-Directors, Associate Directors, researchers, policy and practice colleagues, students, and families.
I look forward to networking with like-minded scholars in ways that will facilitate cross-disciplinary research focusing on under-researched, timely and necessary issues related to families and relationships. It is so important to achieve impact through community engagement and highlight the voices and needs of families, which are of course real strengths of the CRFR.
I was also delighted to accept this role last year, and share Michelle’s excitement about networking with like-minded scholars. I’d also like to connect the CRFR more closely with groups of scholars engaged in related research and teaching, such as GENDER.ED, RACE.ED, the Centre for South Asian Studies and the Centre for African Studies – as I’ve been attempting to do through a compelling line-up of seminars this year.
I have been interested to see how within the CRFR – a multi-institution network spanning universities in Scotland and beyond – there is significant research happening on relevant themes outside Scotland. It would be particularly important to foreground the work undertaken in South global contexts and amplify those perspectives.
I am excited to work with the group of PhD students extending out of the CRFR and have particularly enjoyed the reading groups and other interactions I have had with the PhDs community so far. I hope that in the coming months, the CRFR publications will showcase the important work being done by our PhD students. I have also enjoyed soliciting briefings and blogs by Master and undergraduate students, who are also doing fabulous work.
I’d love to see the CRFR making a significant contribution to research training. To start this off, I will be developing a micro-methods course on multiple interviews within families for the School of Social and Political Science’s Research Training Centre.
Hopefully, this gives you some sense of my to-do list in the coming while!