Slave-ownership and the National Portrait Gallery, London

Birkbeck and the National Portrait Gallery are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded collaborative doctoral studentship through the REACH Consortium from October 2020 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.

This project, Slave-ownership and the National Portrait Gallery, London, examines the links between the National Portrait Gallery and historical transatlantic slavery. In particular, it seeks to understand the impact of wealth derived from slavery on its founders, donors, and the sitters represented in its portraits, thus acknowledging a history that has long remained hidden.

The project will be jointly supervised by Dr Sarah Thomas and Dr Lucy Peltz and the student will be expected to spend time at both Birkbeck and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.

Project Overview 

The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of those people who made a notable contribution to British history. By closely scrutinising the early history of one particular institution – its personnel, and the collecting choices of its trustees – through the lens of slave-ownership and its profits, this project will have broad implications for the wider museum sector, exploring in particular issues of national identity and the ethics of funding that have particular currency in today’s decolonising debates.

The studentship will offer access to the NPG’s expertise and collections, working with a range of colleagues under the direction of Dr Lucy Peltz, Head of Collection Displays (Tudor to Regency) and Senior Curator 18th Century Collections. This is a particularly timely moment for a research project of this nature as the Gallery will be in the process of developing Inspiring People, a major refurbishment and redisplay of its collection which will see the Gallery relaunch in 2023 as an exciting public cultural space in which to participate, challenge and debate British history, culture and contemporary life. Consequently, this research project’s focus and findings will contribute to the Gallery’s stated commitment to increasing institutional transparency and raising important questions about the legacies of empire in British society today.

Start date: 1 October 2020 [or later, depending on situation]

Application Deadline: Wednesday 3 June 2020, 2pm

Interviews will take place online on Tuesday 16 June, 2020

More details:

Biocultural knowledge, power and poetics in South American featherwork

PhD Studentship within the AHRC Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM)

Birkbeck, University of London, and the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded Collaborative Doctoral Training grant from October 2020 to undertake research on South American objects made by Indigenous peoples out of feathers, or with feathers attached, in the Pitt Rivers Museum’s collections. 

Exploring South American featherwork in the Pitt Rivers collections, this interdisciplinary, practice-based doctoral project will seek to develop ways of telling histories of specific objects that shed light not only on the historical processes of collection in the field and the ‘lives’ of the objects in the museum, but also on contemporary debates on Indigenous cultural identity, sovereignty and heritage rights, as well as the dynamic relationships among Indigenous peoples, birds, and environments. The project aims to provide understanding of these feathered objects as historical biocultural objects, which afford ways of telling the histories in which biodiversity emerges.

This project will be jointly supervised by Professor Luciana Martins, Birkbeck and Dr Laura Van Broekhoven, Oxford and the student will be expected to spend time at both Birkbeck and the Pitt Rivers Museum, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK. 

We are looking for an excellent, highly promising and appropriately qualified student who will embrace the opportunity to bring together academic research in museum studies with experience and training in a leading British museum.

We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP doctoral training grant and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply for our doctoral training grants.

In general, full doctoral training grants are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. Fees-only awards are generally available to EU nationals resident in the EEA. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this doctoral training grant.

Applications for this studentship are now closed