Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
I am a late arrival in academia. The beginning of my 25-year career was spent promoting people's participation in the health and community sectors in the UK. In a varied series of jobs I have established new departments, projects and organizations - inter alia pioneering hospital patient information and advocacy services as the first Quality Manager of Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham; establishing community groups; setting up a national art award; and being the first Executive Director of the Community Foundation in Derbyshire. While working at Nottingham Community Health Council and at the King's Fund in London I was able to influence healthcare policy and practice locally and nationally, and have contributed publications, workshops and conference talks to my various areas of involvement. My track-record in the field of community foundations is based on successful practical experience in Derbyshire and extensive learning gained from contact with colleagues in Europe and North America. I served from 1997 - 2003 on the Board of the UK's national support organization for community foundations, Community Foundation Network, and have been a member of the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network since 2000. I am now applying these skills and learning as a development practitioner in Egypt, where, with my husband and colleagues, I have established the first community foundation in Egypt: the Community Foundation for South Sinai, which I chair along with our partner foundation, the South Sinai Foundation (UK). Most recently I have researched the impact of conservation and development on Bedouin lives and livelihoods in South Sinai, obtaining my PhD from the Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, in 2011. I am committed to spending the rest of my working life contributing to the academic understanding of the position of South Sinai Bedu, and securing improvements in their condition.
Community philanthropy; fund development; natural and cultural history of South Sinai; South Sinai Bedu; nomadic pastoralism. I speak fluent French, rusty German and an odd sort of Bedouin Arabic.
My research is focussed on the Bedouin communities of South Sinai. I'm currently investigating potential associations between the ongoing practice of traditional agropastoral livelihoods, which are… read more
HILARY GILBERT, 2013. 'Bedouin overgrazing' and conservation politics: Challenging ideas of pastoral destruction in South Sinai Biological Conservation. 160, 59-69
HILARY GILBERT, 2013. Trapped by Tatriiz: Bedouin Handicrafts and Marginalization in South Sinai Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture. 11(2), 128-139 HILARY GILBERT, 2013. Nature = Life: Environmental Identity as Resistance in South Sinai Nomadic Peoples: Commission on Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. 17(2), 40-67
HILARY GILBERT and MOHAMMED KHEDR AL JEBAALI, 2012. 'Not Philanthropists but Revolutionaries': Promoting Bedouin Participation in the 'new Egypt.': A case study from South Sinai American University in Cairo Press.
My research is focussed on the Bedouin communities of South Sinai. I'm currently investigating potential associations between the ongoing practice of traditional agropastoral livelihoods, which are in steep decline, and child health and nutritional status in South Sinai Bedu. I am also concerned with the relationship between this decline and Bedouin identity. This work is funded by the Leverhulme Trust as a component of Francis Gilbert's current grant investigating the relationship between traditional Bedouin livelihoods, biodiversity and human wellbeing.
Unlike most academics my research is integrated with practice rather than teaching. My community development practice in South Sinai supports and makes possible my own research and the social elements of Francis' wider programme. Together with Francis, Egyptian and Bedouin colleagues I established the first registered Community Foundation in Egypt, the Community Foundation for South Sinai, and its partner charity, the UK-registered South Sinai Foundation, both of which I chair (details at www.southsinaifoundation.org). I therefore also investigate community philanthropy, in particular the operation of the community foundation model in an international context, and the model's potential as a vehicle for immanent rather than imposed development.
My doctoral research explored the social impacts of 'Development', including conservation, on South Sinai Bedu in and around the St Katherine Protectorate. Resulting publications included the first demonstration of Bedouin poverty in the post-development era (since data on Bedu are not separately recorded in official statistics), and a debunking of the previously unchallenged myth of Bedouin habitat destruction by 'overgrazing'.
Much of our research into marginalized Bedouin communities in Sinai is only possible due to the trust established with local people by our Community Foundation, which is operationally Bedouin-led. One example is the recent investigation of a possible genetic basis for health conditions in South Sinai Bedu, who are among the least genetically diverse populations on earth (MRes student Katalina Bobowik, supervised by Francis and Sara Goodacre). We hope in future to extend this work, investigating the spectacular rates of congenital deafness in the Mzeina tribe, and exploring social as well as therapeutic methods of addressing it.