About the Leverhulme Centre for Water Cultures
The University of Hull's Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area, the ‘green-blue humanities.’
It equips a new generation of PhD students to take this agenda forward, transforming our understanding of our relationships with water and shaping future research agendas, methods, and approaches within and between disciplines.
Join our webinar – Thursday 11 March 2021
We are hosting a free webinar to help you find out more about funded postgraduate research at the Leverhulme Centre for Water Cultures. Join us to hear from programme leaders, supervisors, students and researchers and ask any burning questions at the Q&A. Register here
About this project
This is an exciting opportunity for an ambitious, talented and enthusiastic researcher to conduct interdisciplinary research in order to advance thinking within the area of blue-green humanities through exploring how human attitudes to, and use of, wetland landscapes have changed over time, influencing and influenced by culture and economic practices.
Communities dwelling in areas with extensive wetlands, such as the Humberhead Levels, have always had a complex relationship with the sodden and soggy parts of their landscape. These landscapes were often dangerous – difficult to cross, hazardous for humans and wildlife, home to ‘monsters’, and on occasion, subject to crop and home-destroying floods. Yet the watery margins of the land also yielded important resources, including food, building materials, fuel, pasturage, as well as being sites of religious and social significance. By the early modern period, many of these landscapes were viewed as unproductive “wastelands” and extensive drainage and enclosure schemes transformed many such areas into arable farmland. Today, in the face of an increasingly uncertain climate, society is rediscovering that many of these areas are at increased risk of flooding, a realisation that is coupled with a growing understanding of the role wetlands play in ecosystem service provision (e.g. carbon storage, flood mitigation, biodiversity services).
Using case studies within the Humberhead Levels, this project will explore how human attitudes to, and use of, wetland landscapes have changed over time, influencing and influenced by culture and economic practices. It will use multiple methods – including as appropriate: historical research, archaeological investigations, GIS, sedimentary analysis, and landcover reconstruction modelling – to reconstruct changing experiences of ‘living on the edge’. Research will be shaped by the successful candidate, but could include:
- Using a historical (documentary-led) approach to explore changing resource use and attitudes to wetlands before and after the major drainage of the area in 1693;
- Using a palaeoecological and archaeological approach to reconstruct the impact of wetland-dryland boundary changes on local populations during the last major wetland expansion (c. 6000-3000 years ago);
- Sharing narratives of change with stakeholders and jointly exploring their relevance in imagining what the future looks like for these ‘green-blue’ landscapes.
This project will make use of the resources and relationships built up by the Reconstructing the Wildscapes project and the PGR will have opportunities to collaborate with the Wildscapes Project Team as well as colleagues at the University of Hull. The project offers an excellent opportunity for the selected PGR to develop an unusually broad skillset.