Dr Rohini Rai from Brunel University London has been awarded pilot funding from the British Academy for an innovative public engagement research project with the Society. The project will focus on ‘undoing’ the public imagination of the Himalayas and reimagining the region through the lens of its indigenous communities by centring their stories and perspectives.
Rohini will work in collaboration with the Society, engaging with our vast archival materials on the Himalayan region, and will work closely with the UK-based Himalayan diaspora communities from Nepal and Northeast India. The project will include a co-organised, day-long workshop-style event which will engage the public in ‘storytelling through dancing’. This activity will feed into a digital exhibition using archival materials on the Himalayas, which will be co-curated with the communities involved.
Of the project, Rohini said: “I am extremely excited to have secured the funding from the British Academy and to be a part of its first ever SHAPE Involve and Engage programme. This project will enable me to work closely with the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) as the key cultural partner in engaging the public with interdisciplinary social science research. I am also particularly glad that this project will ‘open up’ academic and cultural spaces to the underserved minority communities, particularly the indigenous Himalayan diasporas from Nepal and Northeast India in the UK.”
Rohini is one of fourteen researchers across thirteen projects to receive funding via the British Academy’s new SHAPE Involve and Engage Awards, a pilot scheme designed to support creative methods of engaging the public in cutting-edge SHAPE research (social sciences, humanities and the arts for people and the economy). Each award is in partnership with a regional cultural organisation, including galleries, libraries, archives and museums.
The awards, announced in September and worth up to £8,000 each, will support researchers to develop innovative public engagement projects and activities, co-designed in collaboration with their chosen partner cultural organisation. The projects will inspire and connect local communities and audiences with SHAPE research topics and meaningfully involve them in the creation of new research outputs.
The projects will be delivered between October 2023 and October 2024, with more details of public activities and events to be revealed next year.