Mahogany, Enslaved Africans, Miskito Indigenous People at Chiswick House, Kenwood and Marble Hill, London


Funded PG Dip and PhD


Up to 4 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

15 May 2021

About this project

Applications are invited for Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) funded for up to four years (or part-time equivalent) exploring the cultural significance and exceptional intercultural narratives surrounding the mahogany in U.K. heritage environments. It will examine mahogany-related processes of exchange that link three English Heritage properties (Chiswick House, Kenwood and Marble Hill, London), Miskito-African American Indigenous environmental brokers, and enslaved Africans in the West Indies and Central America.

Key research questions that this project will address:

  • What complex themes and diverse histories drove the relationship between the production and consumption of mahogany as a luxury good at key English Heritage sites?
  • How did unfree and coerced labour and Carib and Miskito indigenous peoples engage with the mahogany trade over time?
  • How did mahogany differ from other commodities in its multiple uses and as a symbol? What is its importance to key debates across disciplines?
  • What do sources on mahogany linked to English Heritage sites reveal about the wood’s significance to contemporary debates in furniture history, architectural history, ecological history, Atlantic history and histories of consumption?
  • To what extent can decolonising methodologies and ethnographic approaches be fruitfully applied to sources on mahogany?
  • What visible and invisible interconnections link the mahogany at English Heritage sites to diverse communities across time and how might this data be brought to new audiences using interactive visualisation?
  • How does taking a materials-focussed approach impact upon the study of culturally specific histories and archives?

If successful, you will conduct archival research at sites including the National Archives, Kew, The British Library, Jamaica Archives and Records Department and Belize National Archives and Records Service. You will conduct 12 weeks of placement (3 weeks per year) at each of the three London heritage sites working directly with the Curator. These placements have been designed to provide you with direct experience of the heritage sector and first-hand exposure to curation and collection management. You will also be expected to disseminate their research through an interactive data visualization of mahogany’s slave driven and indigenous production networks.

Training, development and support

You will join the Treatied Spaces Research Cluster which collaborates with researchers working on indigenous, slavery, environmental, museum and heritage themes worldwide and they will become part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK. It also provides expansive mentorship and career development PGR opportunities.

In addition, you will be eligible to participate in a range of events, workshops and training and development days. More details are available here.

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help. 

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the college is here to help you achieve your potential. 

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Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain the slavery.

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CDP Studentships fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.

Tuition fees and stipend are paid at the national rates set by UKRI. The stipend rate for 21/22 is £15609 per annum. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (on behalf of Historic England or English Heritage) additionally offers a travel and research expenses grant of £4000 (£1000 p.a. over 4 years).

Further details can be found on the UKRI website.

Entry requirements

This studentship is open to Home and International applicants. However, the University is not able to waive or top up the additional international fee. The applicant may choose to cover the cost themselves or seek some other form of sponsorship. Further guidance can be found here.

Applications from all interested students are welcomed. We particularly welcome applicants from Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The selected candidate will hold a good first degree in a relevant discipline (2:1 Honours or above, or international equivalent) and a Masters qualification (or international equivalent or equivalent experience) in a relevant field. Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the museum sector and potential enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

All applicants must meet UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

How to apply

Informal enquiries are welcomed by Professor Joy Porter and Dr Esme Whittaker

Candidates must meet the University’s requirements for registering for postgraduate research and should apply using the University’s application processes for recruiting PGR students. They are asked to supply a Personal Statement describing a) how their research experience equips them for success carrying out this project and b) their motivation for pursuing doctoral study.

Apply online here

Full time

Part time