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.