Accessibility statement

Grant success for an interdisciplinary York Hope consortium

Posted on 9 December 2021

Dr. Indrajit Roy has been awarded departmental funding to develop and consolidate an interdisciplinary York Hope Consortium alongwith Professor Claire Chambers and Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya.


Dr Indrajit Roy (Politics) has been awarded departmental funding to develop and consolidate an interdisciplinary York Hope Consortium alongwith Professor Claire Chambers (English) and Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya (History and Centre for Global Health Histories). It builds on Roy’s current project at York and will explore with colleagues at WHO and elsewhere the ways in which hope is understood by actors in institutions and societies across scales and geographies.


Towards that end, this interdisciplinary consortium will investigate the following interrelated topics:

  1. Hope and health: How does the experience of the pandemic shape perspectives of hope across local, national and global scales? How do multilateral organisations, national and sub-national governments, religious institutions and community organisations think about hope?
  2. Imagining hope: What have been the cultural expressions of hope in the wake of the pandemic? We are particularly keen to explore this question in the context of political, economic and social crises within which the pandemic is embedded in different countries.
  3. Hope and social change: What are people’s sources of hope in our uncertain times? We are especially keen to explore examples of collective action, social movements and civic solidarity that construct hope?

Much public discourse is about optimism rather than hope. Not being optimistic is often disparaged, but being optimistic can be simplistic, reckless, and lacking in fact. The consortium distinguishes hope from what Lauren Berlant  calls ‘cruel optimism’, Sara Ahmed terms the illusory ‘promise of happiness’, and Arjun Appadurai refers to as ‘aspiration’.  By contrast, drawing on Les Back, Tia DeNora, Steff Jansen and Indrajit Roy, the consortium understands hope to be more relational and political, collectively advancing the idea that something can be done about even the most difficult circumstances.  A global comparative frame in their consortium will help highlight how different structural forms of inequality take shape in different parts of the world. This comparative perspective is essential to consider in the context of global pandemic and the uneven timelines and experiences of crisis, intervention, and hope for a better future. Careful hope, rather than reckless optimism, lies at the heart of this consortium.