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AHRC CDP: Inside-out and outside-in: Participatory Methods for Science and Technology Collections


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Key facts

Tuesday 31 May 2022
Funding start date
Saturday 1 October 2022
Number of funding places
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Research council
Key staff
Dr Helen Graham
Additional staff
Liz Stainforth
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies
Research groups/institutes
Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The Scholarship is an AHRC CDP Scholarship in collaboration with the National Science and Media Museum. The National Science and Media Museum is putting participatory approaches to science and technology at the core of its new Sound and Vision permanent galleries. The innovative core of this PhD is focused on linking the distinctive relational ontologies offered by the history of science and technology and science and technology studies with participatory practice. <br /> <br /> The potential of this intersection of theory and practice will be pursued through two directions, inside-out and outside-in. The student will work inside-out, exploring how taking a relational ontological approach to existing NSMM collections might offer new potentials for connecting to Bradford and the other local places with which it has very strong connections due to patterns of migration. The student will also work outside-in, using modes of thinking and being offered by relational ontologies to undertake an embedded piece of research within communities in Bradford to surface new and important stories that would not otherwise be known or be able to figure in collections or displays. The PhD would co-produce two collaborative case-studies to feed into NSMM&#039;s Sound and Vision Project, delineate specific participatory methods for museums working with science and technology collections and would be well place to make an original contribution to museum studies, the history of science and technology and science and technology studies.<br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible"Full description</h2>

<p><strong>Details of Award</strong><br /> <br /> AHRC CDP Doctoral Training Grants fund full-time studentships for 48 months or part-time equivalent.<br /> <br /> Awards will pay fees at the full University rate and a maintenance grant (&pound;16,062 in 2022/23, pro-rata for part-time study). The award also provides a &pound;550 annual CDP enhancement. Awards may be taken up on a part-time basis if a student is eligible to undertake part-time study; international applicants may be required to study full-time by the terms of their visa.<br /> Further details can be found on the UKRI website: <a href=""></a> .<br /> <br /> The student may be able to apply for up to &pound;1,000 per year (FTE) for appropriate research travel and related expenses.<br /> <br /> The successful candidate will be eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development events. All new AHRC CDP students will be expected to attend the CDP Student Launch Event in September 2022. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Detailed description</strong></p> <p>This PhD is focused on developing new approaches to museum practice for science and technology museums through linking ongoing and active debates about ontology and epistemology in Science and Technology Studies with participatory approaches to curation, interpretation and decolonisation.</p> <p>The potential of this intersection of theory and practice will be pursued through two directions, inside-out and outside-in. The student will work inside-out, exploring how taking a relational ontological approach to existing <a href="">NSMM</a> collections might offer new potentials for connecting to Bradford and the other local places with which it has very strong connections due to patterns of migration&nbsp;(Mirpur in Pakistan; Gujarat in India, Sylhet in Bangladesh; Poland and Ukraine; Dominica in the Caribbean). The student will also work outside-in, using modes of thinking and being offered by relational ontologies to undertake an embedded piece of research within communities in Bradford to surface new and important stories that would not otherwise be known or be able to figure in collections or displays</p> <p>The PhD will use a practice-based method and methods of participatory action research. The student will be actively involved in the development of the <a href="">National Science and Media Museum</a> permanent Sound and Vision galleries and, through this, gain extensive experience in collections-based research, interpretation and display as well as in community development approaches. The PhD would co-produce two collaborative case-studies. These collaborative case-studies would feed into the NSMM&rsquo;s Sound and Vision Project, potentially informing content in the displays, through the project activities or in complimentary online content, and would also enable the PhD to delineate participatory methods for museums working with science and technology collections.</p> <p><strong>What are the likely research questions?</strong><br /> <br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What types of participatory methods for science and technology collections are made possible through drawing on relational ontologies as developed in the history of science and science and technology studies?<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What participatory methods are enabled by working inside-out, starting with specific collections and exploring the kinds of relationships and networks that might be drawn out in terms of Bradford and its communities?<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;What participatory methods are enabled by working outside-in, taking an embedded&nbsp;approach in Bradford&rsquo;s communities to generate new understandings of how sound and vison technologies shape and are shaped in everyday life?&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What is the research context?<br /> &nbsp;</strong><br /> There are two significant research contexts for this PhD.&nbsp;</p> <p>The first is the ongoing delineation of relational ontologies in the history of science and science and technology studies. Key ideas for the purposes of this PhD include:&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Co-production/co-constitution: In a science and technology context, &lsquo;co-production&rsquo; was first used by Bruno Latour in We Have Never Been Modern (Latour 1993: 54, 108, 134) and, since then, has been used to refer to the way &lsquo;the realities of human experience emerge as the achievements of scientific, technical and social enterprise: science and society are co-produced, each underwriting the other&rsquo;s existence&rsquo; (Jasanoff 2004, p 33). &nbsp;Since then a wide variety of different expressions of the &lsquo;co-constitution of reality&rsquo; have developed which seek to show the entangled nature of people and things, technology and the social, matter and meaning, &lsquo;word and worlds&rsquo; (Barad 2007: 32). &nbsp;This offers enormous potential for participatory practice in that it recognises that science and technology and people&rsquo;s everyday lives and how they make sense of them are entwined in producing realities. This means that participants&rsquo; everyday realities can usefully become a crucial dimension of museological work on science and technology collections.&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Actor-network-theory: Actor-Network-Theory is one iteration of a relational ontology arising from science and technology studies. It draws attention to the ways in which any phenomenon is made up of connections &ndash;&nbsp;networks &ndash; of people, things and ideas. This offers to participatory practice the idea that an object can never be treated as metaphysically discrete but needs to be understood through tracing the networks that make that object/person/idea possible and active in the world. Action-Network-Theory therefore suggests that it is only possible to understand certain phenomena through deeply considering these actor-networks and it is this suggestion that has the potential to centre participatory approaches for museum practice in this area.</p> <p>The second significant research context is participatory museum practice. There is an extensive literature on the difficulties and challenges of participatory practice in museums &ndash; drawing attention to challenges of decision-making, power imbalances, inequality in what is recognised as legitimate expertise (e.g. Brown and Peers 2003; Lynch and Alberti 2010; Morse 2021). More recent work has suggested that it is the political ontological underpinnings of museums that make participatory work so difficult (Graham 2016; 2019) &ndash; a political ontology based in metaphysical individualism that treats objects as discrete and different from people. Relational ontologies &ndash; of the type offered by &lsquo;co-production&rsquo; and &lsquo;actor-network-theory&rsquo; &ndash; offer museums different ways of thinking about the relations between the collections and people that offer potentials for a different museum politics.&nbsp;</p> <p>The PhD is based on the groundwork established through the AHRC-funded &lsquo;Bradford&rsquo;s National Museum&rsquo; project (2017-2021) which identified a series of participatory ways of connecting the experiences and knowledges of people in Bradford with the science and technology collections and themes of the National Science and Media Museum. This, along with experience of participatory work represented in the NSMM Sound and Vision team,&nbsp;make for a strong and supportive context for the new and original lines on inquiry that will be pursued through this PhD.</p> <p><strong>Proposed approach</strong><br /> <br /> The novelty of the PhD lies in producing new knowledge about methods for museum practice. In order to meet this aim the PhD will be rooted in practice-based methods and participatory action research, reflecting approaches that were used in the Bradford&rsquo;s National Museum project. The methods are facilitated by cycles of planning, action, observation and documentation and reflection and discussion (see Burns 2006 for an overview and an approach to action research that sits well with the ontological turn). As part of their approach, the student may also deploy ethnographic and autoethnographic approaches to develop rich descriptions of their practice, an increasingly common approach to practice- and action-led research (see Chang 2008).</p> <p>The project is framed through two directions of travel: inside out and outside in. Taken together, they allow the project to focus on colonialism and the implications of the museum&rsquo;s colonial histories for working in Bradford today and to decisively enact decolonisation by pioneering new starting points for stories, where the museum is not centred. These directions of travel will form the basis of two case studies for the PhD, as well as contributing to the Sound and Vision project at the NSMM. The Sound and Vision project is a 6 million pound masterplan project which will create two new galleries for the museum which are focused on three essential pillars: celebrating our collections; connecting our collections to science and technology; and telling stories in collaboration with our local audiences through new participatory models.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Inside Out</em> begins inside the museum by looking at the origins and evolutions of the NSMM&rsquo;s core collections&nbsp;of photography, film, television and sound technologies. The development of the collections &ndash; and their relevance and connection to local communities and audiences &ndash; &nbsp;have changed over time. The origins of the collections go back to the Great Exhibition of 1851, which lead to the establishment of the South Kensington Museum. This, in turn, led to the establishment of the Science Museum and then, in 1983, to the establishment of the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford. The histories of these collections, and the institutional framework that they have sat within are one of the keys to understanding whether different communities have felt connected to, and represented by, the museum as a whole. &nbsp;An Inside Out approach will allow the PhD student to inform their research through the way in which the museum frames a definition of the collections. The student will work to apply &lsquo;co-production&rsquo; methods, exploring what it means to tell this history from the vantage point of Bradford and its translocal connections (rather than from South Kensington). In terms of animating a co-production methodology, there is the potential to trace specific objects from both NSMM and SMG collections. One example of this approach might be following the John Adams Whipple and George Phillips Bond &lsquo;Daguerreotype of the Moon&rsquo; or &lsquo;the Magic lantern slide of the Great Exhibition Royal Carriage procession&rsquo;. Both of these objects could be looked at in terms of production, materiality, relationship to the wider imperial networks, circulation and use and, in collaboration with people in Bradford, their meanings today.</p> <p><em>Outside In</em> will begin outside the museum and see the student working with a specific community group in Bradford, in order to explore how they use sound and vision technology on their terms. Which community they work with will depend on the student and we will welcome and seek to attract applicants who speak one of the community languages of Bradford&nbsp;(Punjabi and Urdu being the most widely spoken after English). We are in a good position to support the student to make their own decisions, based on the networks developed via the Bradford&rsquo;s National Museum legacy.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Within the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Faculty information</h2>

<p>The PhD will be based in the <a href="">School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies</a> and the <a href="">Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage</a>.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies should be made online through the <a href=""></a> . Please state clearly that the funding you wish to be considered for is <em>Inside-out and outside-in: Participatory Methods for Science and Technology Collections</em>.</p> <p>The following supporting documents are required:<br /> &bull;&nbsp; &nbsp;Copies of all transcripts and degree certificates.<br /> &bull;&nbsp; &nbsp;A letter of application (maximum 1000 words) explaining how your current academic interests relate to the doctoral project, your reasons for applying for the studentship, and how your prior education and other experiences have equipped you to undertake the project. &nbsp;Please note: this should be entered in the application process in place of the Research Proposal.<br /> &bull; &nbsp; &nbsp;Two academic references in support of your application. You are responsible for contacting your referees and ensuring that all references are received by the application deadline. &nbsp;Please contact your referees and ask them to email their reference to us directly at <a href=""></a> from their institutional email address. References can be submitted on headed paper or using the referee&#39;s report form. Further information about references can be found here: <a href=""></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Closing date for applications: <strong>5 pm Tuesday 31 May 2022</strong><br /> Interviews will be held on <strong>June 13 2022 (time TBC)</strong></p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to PhD programmes should normally hold at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline and a master's degree (or be predicted to hold a master's degree). If you do not have a Masters degree relevant work experience will be taken into consideration. Applicants who are uncertain about any aspect of the entry criteria are advised to contact prior to submitting an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent (please contact the Graduate School Office for information about alternative English language qualifications accepted by the School). The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. A degree from a country in which English is the primary language can be considered valid evidence of English language qualifications provided that it is no more than two years old at the time of the proposed start date.

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact the Graduate School Office<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=" ">;</a></p>