Helen Underhill awarded a British Academy Research Grant

Urban Fire Risk Education and Gender in Informal Settlements (Lebanon)

A makeshift dwelling in Lebanon

Lebanon refugee dwelling

Dr Helen Underhill, a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, has been awarded a British Academy Small Research Grant to develop her work on fire risk education in informal settlements in Lebanon. After joining Operation Florian in Lebanon in 2017 to design and deliver a fire prevention and risk reduction progamme for NGOs working with refugees in camps and substandard buildings, this research responds to critical insights gathered during the trip. Through exploring how gender shapes risk and vulnerability to fire in informal settlements, this research will advance understandings of the lived experience of fire risk, prevention and response. This can inform fire education and risk reduction programming in informal urban and tented settlements in the Global South, and support a wider reimagining of how fire risk is conceptualized and addressed. An initial survey will provide an urgent insight into the scale and nature of fire risk for already vulnerable populations before arts based methodologies such as participant photography and collage explore how context and gender shape learning about fire and risk reduction. Importantly, the methodologies prioritise participants’ reflections on the lived experience of fire. Their insights will enable an interrogation of how social dynamics and structures produce and reinforce gender relations that establish specific ‘owners’ and discourses of knowledge that place vulnerable groups such as women and children at greater risk. The work in Lebanon will continue the links between Operation Florian and Save the Children Lebanon and will see Dr Underhill work with Shelter specialists, fire engineers and practitioners from the UK Fire Service.



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