Museum Studies at Leicester

Recent Research Funding Awards

Dr Alice Tilche has been awarded a grant from the AHRC on Indigenous Film Ecologies in India, Feb 2023 – Jul 2025 (£311,000) co-developed with Dakxin Bajrange Chhara (Co-I), Dr akshay khanna, and with a collective of indigenous artists and filmmakers associated with Nomad Movies. The project aims to develop and consolidate indigenous filmmaking practices, methodologies and visual languages that address the asymmetries in the public sphere and the exclusions of indigenous communities from knowledge production. Designed as an action-research intervention, the project is developing: a) an ambitious training programme for young leaders from indigenous and marginalised communities in India’s most fragile ecological regions, generating fiction and non-fiction films based on robust research; b) a Nomad Film Festival as a platform for showcasing films from indigenous communities across the country and beyond. The project addresses longstanding questions of power in knowledge production, enabling the restitution of power to communities over knowledge produced about them.  

Associate Professor, Yunci Cai, is hosting Dr Magda Buchczyk who has secured a British Academy Visiting Fellowship for Weaving ecologies – intangible heritage between social and environmental justice, Jul 2023 – Oct 2023  (£31,365) at the School of Museum Studies.  This Fellowship brings together heritage ecology and social and environmental justice to push the boundaries of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) studies. It draws on ethnographic research of basket-makers harvesting plants for their craft in the Mediterranean wetlands. The artisans consider themselves the caretakers and gardeners of the lagoons. However, the threat of coastal erosion and climate change leads to new environmental policies restricting their access to landscapes. In Europe and Ramsar wetlands worldwide, ICH has become an area of conflict about social and environmental justice, and contrasting claims about preserving traditions or conserving ecosystems. The Fellowship combines research and networking to situate the ethnography globally. Foregrounding social and more-than-human relations, it questions the underlying assumptions and the binary frameworks of safeguarding ICH and environmental conservation. The project seeks to pioneer a new approach to ICH for the heritage sector in the Anthropocene.

Associate Professor, Yunci Cai, has been awarded a grant from the British Museum Endangered Material Knowledge Programme, for Rediscovering Linangkit: The Traditional Hand Needle-weaving of Women from Sabah, May 2023 – Apr 2025  (£99,924). The linangkit technique uses a needle and threads to create a system of tiny intricately connected identical knots to form a dense fabric of colourful motifs, which are used on the costumes of several Indigenous groups in Sabah to denote their distinct beliefs and cultural identities. Through detailed cultural mapping of linangkit, representative heirloom analysis and interviews with living master craftswomen, owners and users, the project seeks to understand the linangkit craft, how it is historically produced and transmitted, and the role of material culture in identity creation. 

Professor Tilly Blyth has been awarded a grant for Communicating Time and Culture: Championing a Global Perspective in Science and Technology through Public Engagement AHRC award, Oct 2023 – Jun 2024, (£79,921). Designed to build on our transnational understanding of the creative industries in the UK and China, the research connects to the forthcoming exhibition, Zimingzhong: Clockwork Treasures from China's Forbidden City, due to open at the Science Museum in February 2024 by developing creative approaches to audience engagement.

Professor Ross Parry has been awarded an AHRC grant (as one of three Co-Is with Professor Hannah Thompson, Royal Holloway, as PI) for The Sensational Museum: The Practice and Provision of Trans-sensory Collecting and Communicating, Apr 2023 – Jun 2025 (£269,640). ‘The Sensational Museum’ is an ambitious multi-partner, multi-year initiative bringing together university-based researchers in Royal Holloway, Leicester, Westminster and Lincoln. In its inter-disciplinary approach it is leveraging insights and methods from critical disability studies, psychology, product/service design, as well as museology. The aim is to conceive, develop and then test a ‘trans-sensory’ approach to both museum collections management and public provision. Challenging the traditional limited array of ‘senses’ hard-wired into museum practice, in particular the privileging of sight. The project will take a series of objects through their journeys within the museum (from accession to display), as well as a piece of public programming (from conception to delivery) to understand how shifts in assumptions around sensory experience (taking instead a more expansive ‘trans-sensory’ notion of sense) might profoundly impact upon the work and outputs of museums.

RCMG has been awarded an AHRC network grant on Addressing the museum attendance and benefit gap (AHRC), Oct 2023 – Mar 2025 (£44,494). At population level, data from the official Taking Part Survey shows that the majority of people who visit museums are from upper socio-economic groups and that this divide is growing. Population-level studies in the epidemiology of culture also tell us that simply visiting a museum may have positive health benefits, a finding which reveals the lack of fairness in the current distribution of cultural resources and the way museums reflect and contribute to established inequalities in health and wellbeing. Yet at museum level, often due to funder pressure, research capacity is used on project evaluations to show the positive impact of small-scale activities on groups of non-visitors. Shaped by 'intuitive' approaches to inequality, these projects fall far short of the level of strategic thinking and research capability required to understand and address population-level disparities in visitation and benefit. This network will bridge this divide, move the museology sector beyond 'intuitive' approaches to inequality and generate a new research agenda and strategy to support museums to understand and address the museum attendance and benefit gap. It complements the AHRC's "Research culture and heritage capital with an interdisciplinary team" call, by focusing not on defining cultural value, but on who gets that value.

Professor Corinne Fowler has been awarded an AHRC network grant (as Co-I with Professor Simon Bainbridge, Lancaster University, as PI) on Addressing the Histories and Legacies of Empire in Literary House Museums: Dove Cottage and Beyond (AHRC) Aug 2023 – Aug 2024 (£34,552). This network brings together academics, museum personnel, consultants, writers and stakeholders to investigate the colonial links of Romantic-period literary house museums and consider how best to interpret these connections for a wider public. The network will address the challenge of complex colonial histories and consider how best to respond strategically to the sensitivities involved.

Professor Corinne Fowler has been awarded a grant (as Co-I with Professor Neil Chakraborti as PI) The Rural Racism project (Leverhulme) Oct 2023 – Mar 2025 (£350,278). The project seeks to ‘re-story’ our understandings of life in the countryside by using evidence to unpack and transform old narratives. It is the first project of its kind to place the lived experiences of ethnic minorities centre stage through its co-produced research design, and in doing so it will expose and dismantle the barriers which prevent minority ethnic households and visitors from feeling a sense of belonging within rural communities.

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