As part of our mission to undertake research on the Society’s Collections and to make them more accessible, we have awarded four Wiley Research Fellowships for 2022.
We’re speaking to each of our Research Fellows to find out more about their projects and the latest is Nokmedemla Lemtur from the University of Göttingen, Germany.
Nokmedemla is examining the lives of high altitude porters in the Mount Everest expeditions from 1921 to 1953. We caught up with her to discuss her research, why she applied for the Fellowship and what she’s hoping to find in the digital archives.
How did you become interested in your current research?
I have always been fond of the mountains and would often go on treks in the Himalayas. For my Masters thesis, my supervisor encouraged me to work on a project that I was passionate about and suggested that I to go to the National Archive of India and see if I could find any material on the mountains and mountaineering. It was at the same time as I was reading Jonathan Neale’s Tigers of the Snow which brought me to discover the expeditions in the inter-war period. I got drawn into the process of looking at the archival material and it opened me up to the possibilities of historical research. My interest in the labour processes and representation of the people employed in these expeditions brought me to my current research.
What made you apply for a WDA Research Fellowship?
I had briefly visited the Society’s Collections during a small window between COVID-19 restrictions in October 2021. Due to the time restriction, I couldn’t complete my research during that period, but luckily, I was informed about the WDA Fellowship, which opened the possibility of completing my research and working with a digital archive.
My research has taken me to archives in India, Germany, Austria and the UK and I became very interested in the internal dynamics of a digital archive. The WDA is not just an archive/archives that is digitised but one that has become digital. This slightly changes the way in which one would otherwise approach an archive that is traditionally organised along the principle of provenance. I thought it would be interesting to see search results from the meta data that are spread across time and form, for example both written or visual.
How does your project sit within your wider research interests?
Firstly, as part of my doctoral thesis, this project builds upon the research I have been doing on the German Himalayan expeditions. These expeditions in the inter-war period provide an interesting perspective not just into the history of mountaineering but also the complicated processes and entanglements of people, cultures and politics. Secondly, as I had been working with archives and archival material, it also made me think about the interconnectedness and transnational nature of archives. This project gives me the opportunity to delve into that question.
What are you hoping to find in the digital archives?
After my preliminary search of the materials in the digital archive, I am excited to look into the various logistical details of the Everest expeditions. Additionally, the digitised photographs are of excellent quality, and I am keen on zooming in on the aspects of climber-porter interactions.
Find out more about our Wiley Digital Archive Research Fellowships
Find out more about research on our Collections.
The findings from our Wiley Research Fellows from this year will be shared in the autumn.