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AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Picture Library » Image: H.G. Ponting lecturing, reference S0016042RGS-IBG and the Royal Society have been awarded an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP), which will support three doctoral studentships each year for three years from 2013. 

Academics from universities with potential projects, or with an interest in discussing opportunities, please contact Dr Catherine Souch at RGS-IBG or Keith Moore at the Royal Society.

The 2015 call for proposals is now open: Call (PDF); Guidance (PDF); Application Form (MSWORD).

View details of AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards being offered by other CDPs.

Current AHRC supported Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) studentships at the RGS-IBG

‘Weather imaginaries: British exploration, climate change and the visual culture of the Cryosphere’

  • RGS-IBG - Jean de Pomereu (September 2009 start (part-time); University of Exeter: PI Dr Simon Naylor)
  • Public perceptions of climate change are strongly configured around extreme weather events often located in remote polar or mountainous regions. Historically expeditions to these sites brought back increasing amounts of scientific information and laid the groundwork for the science of glaciology and broader understandings of the global climate system. While the history of nineteenth and twentieth century British exploration is well documented, the representation of cold spaces has never been considered in terms of the climate knowledge that was generated. This is an in-depth study of the historic visual geographies of the cryosphere as recorded by British exploration.

‘Terra Incognita: women in the expedition archives, 1913-1970’

  • RGS-IBG - Sarah Evans (September 2010 start; University of the West of England: PI Dr Avril Maddrell)
  • An investigation of women's geographical expeditionary work 1913-1970 focusing on the unique expedition archive of RGS-IBG. The work aims to contribute to debates about women's historical contribution to geographical knowledge and the experience of fieldwork; to ongoing debates about the importance of expeditions to contemporary knowledge; and to consider why expeditions are still represented as masculine endeavours in public debate.

‘Geographical projections: lantern slides, science and popular geography, 1860-1960’

  • RGS-IBG - Emily Hayes (September 2011 start; University of Exeter: PI Dr James Ryan) .
  • Little scholarly attention has been directed to the widespread use of glass lantern slides, which from the 1860s onwards became hugely popular forms of entertainment and education, catering to an increasing hunger for visual imagery (particularly photographs) in the age of empire, mass communication, science and modernity. This project focuses on the RGS-IBG collection of lantern slides (approximately 20,000) to examine how lantern slides were used to make and communicate geographical knowledge to different audiences; to locate lantern slides within wider settings of science, commerce and entertainment; to examine how lantern slides were actually used as objects as well as how they were viewed as projected images.

‘Armchair geography: speculation, synthesis and the British culture of exploration’

  • RGS-IBG - Natalie Cox (September 2012 start; University of Warwick: PI Dr David Lambert)
  • Armchair geographers, an under-appreciated group of British and Irish authors and critics, spoke, wrote, theorised and produced maps about the non-European world based not on their own observations, but using a combination of the collation, interpretation and synthesis of existing sources. Active in contemporary geographical controversies centred on RGS-IBG but with wider public resonance, they often criticised – sometimes quite rightly – the claims of contemporary explorers such as David Livingstone, Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke. Victorian armchair geography has continuing resonance in present-day debates about field science, expeditionary activity and academic knowledge (such as the notion that expeditionary research in the ‘field’ is superior to that stemming from the ‘ivory tower’).

'Expeditionary Film, Geographical Science and Media Culture'

  • Jan Faull (September 2013 start (part-time); Royal Holloway, University of London: PI Professor Felix Driver)
  • The project investigates the production, distribution and presentation of films made on successive Everest expeditions between 1922 and 1953. Drawing on unique archival film collections held by the British Film Institute, the Everest expedition archives and related collections such as The Times archives, the research considers the logistical and technical requirements of expeditionary film, including the role of Sherpa porters in film-making; the role of media sponsorship in shaping the presentation of expedition work; and how film was shown, and to what audiences, within the context of popular and scientific understandings of mountaineering in the period. The research also considers the wider significance and potential uses of the Everest film archive. This involves consideration of the role of key organisations, including RGS-IBG and the BFI, in developing a community of interest around geographical film in the first half of the twentieth century.

'Instruments of Exploration: Technologies of Geographical Enquiry, c. 1860-c. 1939'

  • Jane Wess (September 2013 start; University of Edinburgh: PI Professor Charles Withers)
  • The project studies the instruments of geographical exploration and their associated print and manuscript histories. The RGS-IBG holds a uniquely important set of instruments of geographical exploration. The project aims in general: to examine the RGS-IBG instrument collection in relation to contemporary debates about method, technology, credibility, and trust in geography, exploration, and the field-based empirical sciences; to extend existing collaborative work within the RGS-IBG over the nature and importance of its historical holdings; to address questions about the authority of science, the role of instruments and instrumentation in developing truth claims, and establishing authority through standards and practices of authoritative measurement.

'Family history, place and diaspora'

  • RGS-IBG – Chandan Mahal  (September 2014 start; Queen Mary, University of London; PI Professor Alison Blunt)
  • The studentship will develop an intergenerational methodology to study family history, place and diaspora in the RGS-IBG collections. The research will explore the relationships between family history and community heritage in diaspora, focusing on those who migrated to post-war Britain. Through participatory research with the maps, photographs, objects and documents held in the archives and collections at the RGS-IBG, alongside participants’ own photographs, letters and possessions, the research will explore the significance of places of ancestral residence, departure, journeys, settlement, networks and return in diasporic family history. The research will make a distinctive contribution to broader debates about the relationships between family and diaspora, family and community history, and diaspora and place, as well as the analysis of public and personal archives and collections in diaspora. In addition new  resources will be developed to inspire and facilitate family history at the RGS-IBG for a wide range of individuals and community groups.

'Geography in Dialogue: Print Culture at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), c. 1830–c. 2000'

  • RGS-IBG – Ben Newman (September 2014 start; Royal Holloway, University of London; PI Dr Innes Keighren)
  • This project focuses on the authorship, editorship, publication, circulation, and reception of The Geographical Journal (under its various titles) between 1831 and 2000. Drawing upon the rich archival collections of the RGS-IBG, the project investigates the significance of the journal both to the Society and to the larger disciplinary audiences it reached and represented. In attending to the journal’s making, distribution, and reading, the project will answer a range of questions: What genres of geographical writing were encouraged or discouraged by individual editors of the journal? When and how did peer-review emerge? What were the economics of the journal’s publication? How did specific print technologies facilitate (or frustrate) certain kinds of geographical publishing? Who were the journal’s readers? How did the journal engage audiences beyond the academy? How did the journal seek to inform the public about geographical issues and debates?

'Scientific Instruments and Expeditionary Science in the Nineteenth Century: Robert Were Fox’s Dip Circle'

  • Royal Society – Matthew Goodman (September 2014 start; University of Glasgow; PI Dr Simon Naylor)
  • This project examines the histories and geographies of nineteenth century magnetic research. At the centre of the project are a number of philosophical instruments that were used to study terrestrial magnetism during voyages of exploration, including the Fox Dip Circle, the Kater Azimuth Compass, and the Kew Pattern Dip Circle, or Barrow Circle. The project will follow the lives of these instruments and their makers and users, as they were deployed in various institutional and expeditionary contexts over the course of the nineteenth century. In doing so it will advance our understandings of the role of instruments in nineteenth-century science and exploration; of the history of non-metropolitan science and technology as it pertained to instrument makers; and of the relations between science, exploration and the military in the nineteenth century. The project will make extensive use of the archives of the Royal Society, along with supplementary use of the RGS-IBG archives and those of other repositories in the UK.

'Picturing Mato Grosso, 1967-69: Expeditionary Science and Salvage Fieldwork'

  • Royal Society – Catarina Fontoura (September 2014 start; Birkbeck, University of London; PI Dr Luciana Martins)
  • This project investigates the role of photography within the twentieth-century exploration of Brazil. Focusing on the untapped records of the joint Royal Society/Royal Geographical Society Expedition to North-Eastern Mato Grosso, Brazil (1967-1969), the project explores the relationship between the photographic camera and the ‘salvage paradigm’ in geography and other field sciences. It will contribute to current research on the cultures of scientific fieldwork and the visual culture of expeditionary science in the twentieth century, as well as to the strategic objectives of both institutions in the wider context of contemporary scientific collaboration between the UK and Brazil.

Further information on Royal Society projects

Completed projects

  • An earlier RGS-IBG CDA, Lowri Jones (Royal Holloway, University of London) was started in 2006 and completed in 2010 (within the specified four years). Her dissertation served as the foundation of a major exhibition highlighting the role of local inhabitants and indigenous intermediaries in histories of exploration (RGS-IBG, 15 October to 10 December 2009), supported by an AHRC Museums, Galleries and Libraries Award to PI Professor Felix Driver (Royal Holloway, University of London) (www.rgs.org/HiddenHistories). Dr Jones is now a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.

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