Globalising Archives, Museums, and Heritage Sites

Connecting significant national collections with their global Indigenous histories.

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

Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

Partners: English Heritage / Historic England

Supervisors: Professor Joy Porter | Tessa Kilpatrick: Marble Hill House

People: Hannah Cusworth

This doctoral project will create the first sustained interdisciplinary study of the provenance and overlapping historical contexts of the mahogany within important U.K. historic sites. It examines mahogany as a transatlantic intercultural commodity and environmentally sensitive trade good. With the aim of improving awareness and understanding of the diverse, contested and hidden histories that surround mahogany within historic interiors, its specific focus is the mahogany cared for by English Heritage, including that at Marble Hill, Chiswick House, Kenwood House, Brodsworth Hall and Audley End.

This exciting new project brings together fields of study not conventionally in dialogue, specifically, environmental and deforestation history, furniture history, architectural history, Miskito Indigenous histories, slavery, the history of international commercial trade, and the movement of commodities within an interconnected Atlantic space. 

Through examination of account books, ledgers, slave records and Indigenous oral traditions and study of archives in the United Kingdom, Belize, Jamaica and the United States, this project uses mahogany to connect and reveal the diverse histories embedded within the collections of key U.K. historic sites.

North American Indigenous Languages in the British Library’s post-1850 Collections

Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Collaborative Doctoral Award

Partner: The British Library

Supervisors: Professor Joy Porter, Dr Francesca Fuentes Rettig, Curator for North American Printed Collections, British Library

People: Rebecca Slatcher

This doctoral project is a unique attempt to advance UK institutional Indigenous language curation in response to current debates on the global responsibilities of heritage institutions to Indigenous communities.

It aims to create a broad-based and discoverable profile of the printed collections of North American Indigenous languages post-1850 that are held at the British Library. The project brings histories of Indigenous language collecting into contact with the contemporary library catalogue to reveal and challenge colonial legacies, to reframe collections, to enhance the catalogue record and to surface Indigenous presence.
The project benefits from an additional BAAS funded research trip to the American Philosophical Society and an AHRC International Placement with Smithsonian Institution. These allow for a collaborative study around how institutions have collected and classified Indigenous language materials and how those materials can be made culturally responsive and accessible today.

Sharing Stories Across the Ocean: A Digital-Enabled Strategy for European Indigenous Museum Collections

Associated Project: Brightening the Covenant Chain

Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Council

Partner: North American Native Museum (NONAM), Zurich

People: Dr Matthias Wong

‘Sharing Stories Across the Ocean’ is a digital heritage project led by Dr Matthias Wong currently in development in collaboration with the North American Native Museum (NONAM), Zurich.  

The project sets out to transform NONAM’s practices in the digital sphere, laying the framework to generate sustained dialogue between Indigenous communities and items of Indigenous origin in NONAM’s collections. Via an in-depth consultation process, this project will create a digital-enabled strategy with NONAM, which will build a sustainable digital culture within the museum and establish NONAM’s capacity to connect its collections with Indigenous communities online.

Dr Matthias Wong with colleagues from NONAM

Associated links:
North American Native Museum (NONAM)

Our Museum, a UK initiative that encouraged communities and museums to work in active partnerships

Reciprocal Research Network, a platform for First Nations items from the Northwest Coast.

Research Programmes

Diplomacy and Treaties

International collaboration revealing globally significant cultures of diplomacy between the Crown, the Haudenosaunee and their neighbours in North America.

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Resource Use and Environmental Futures

New research on the roots of American Republican environmentalism, Canada’s green future, and sustainability in the space sector.

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Digital Storytelling

Digital resources that involve the public, advance research, energise teaching, and drive knowledge exchange, built in partnership with the UK’s foremost research software engineers.

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Political Ecologies

Timely interventions that examine the power relations between Indigenous actors and the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

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Globalising Archives, Museums, and Heritage Sites

Connecting significant national collections with their global Indigenous histories.

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New Treatied Spaces

Projects in development

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