Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Jessica Rucell

Contemporary Violence and Colonial Conditioning: South Africa's Maternal Health System

Photo of Jessica Rucell

My research project focuses on the relationship between current violence, and colonial social and political conditions. Particularly it examines the forms and expressions of structural and everyday violences and how they are sustained through policies and institutions. Empirically, it engages with the governance of reproductive health in South Africa through a policy intervention addressing obstetric violence. This dissertation brings together my main research interests: global development, reproductive politics, and post-conflict reconstruction.

Focus Areas:

  • Global development
  • Post-conflict reconstruction
  • Public health policy
  • Reproductive politics
  • Women’s rights
  • Racism


Academic Profile

I am currently a Research Fellow working in the area of reproductive politics with Dr. Pande, Department of Sociology, The University of Cape Town. Prior to this I was a Research Assistant to Professor Shildrick in the Department of Sociology, The University of Leeds where I reviewed sociological perspectives of poverty.

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds. I hold a MA in Development Studies specialising in Conflict, Reconstruction & Human Security from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands. I hold a BA in Asian Studies and Eastern Philosophy from The New School University, United States (formerly: The New School for Social Research). 

Professional Experience

I have assisted with teaching and grading Global Development Challenges in the Department of Politics & International Studies, University of Leeds; and Human Rights and Wrongs in the Departments of Law & Politics, The University of York. I have also supervised field research for the Masters level course Defending Human Rights at the University of York. 

Prior to my post-graduate research I spent ten years working in International Advocacy for various non-governmental and civil society-led organisations in the United States and Asia. My work focused on directing and managing programmes in the areas of education, humanitarian assistance and human rights with specialisations in conflict, discrimination and refugee rights. In these capacities my geographic focuses included Tibet/China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar.    



  • Rucell J. (2017) ‘Ethical Review & the Social Powerlessness of Data: Bureaucratic barriers, Conflicts of interest, and Blanket Anonymisation’ in Macleod C., Marx J., Mnyaka P., Treharne G. (Eds) Handbook of Ethics in Critical Research: Stories from the field New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press.
  • Shildrick T., Rucell J. (2015) Sociological Perspectives on Poverty, Report, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • Rucell, J. (2011) ‘Acting in No’, in Kumar, C. (ed.) ‘Asking, We Walk: The South As New Political Imaginary’, Volume 3, Streelekha Publications, Bangalore.
  • Rucell, J. (2008) ‘The Color Line’, Left Turn Magazine, Winter.
  • Rucell, J. (2006) ‘Aceh: Peace After the Waters?’, Global Exchange, Report.
  • Rucell, J. (2005) ‘Aceh, Indonesia Issue Reader’, Global Exchange, Literature Review.


  • Research Fellowship, EUSA­id, European Commission, EU 2014-2016
  • PhD Scholarship, Economic Social Science Research Council, UK  2011-2014 
  • Research Grant, Economic Social Science Research Council, UK 2013-2014
  • Summer School award, University of Leeds, UK  2014
  • Conference grant, University of Durham, UK  2014
  • Fieldwork grant, University of Cape Town, SA  2013
  • Conference organization grant, The British International Studies Assoc., 2013
  • Conference grant, Erasmus TrustFonds NL, 2010
  • Conference grant, Institute of Social Studies NL, 2010

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