10 December 2013

Material Encounters – reassessing military collecting in North America and Tibet Job Vacancy

Material Encounters – reassessing military collecting in North America and Tibet

Research Assistant
£22,465 - £25,161 PRO RATA for 18.5 hours per week
Fixed term contract for six months

British military museums contain significant assemblages of non-European artefacts acquired by soldiers on active service and imperial garrison duties across the globe. These artefacts are often little-known and within their military institutional context have been interpreted with limited reference to their complex cultural biographies.

This pilot project is led by material culture specialists from the fields of anthropology and military history. The intention is to survey and assess the interpretive potential of military collections with reference to two selected British military campaigns: the Seven Years' War in North America (1754-63) and the Younghusband Mission to Tibet (1903-04). The objective is to begin developing a methodology for understanding the value of this ‘hidden’ material: the quantity and quality of the collections, their place in the contexts of military organisational culture, and their meaning as material witnesses of the encounters between non-European peoples and British imperial forces. The project is funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant.

The part-time research assistant (RA) will work under the supervision of the project leaders to survey, photograph and identify relevant material, and research the provenance of objects through related museum documentation and other identified archival holdings, including those in private collections. The RA will engage directly with the curators of the collections concerned, visiting selected museums as appropriate. In building relationships, the theme of knowledge transfer will be highlighted. The work is intended to enable military museums to use and represent their collections better, mapping historical associations between collections and collectors, and representing through them the dynamics of colonial military encounters which embrace diplomacy, alliance and curiosity as well as conflict, appropriation and cultural hegemony.

The research assistant will be part time for six months, based at National Museums Scotland. The timetable will include a formal fortnightly meeting with the project leaders and on-going supervision and advice. Deadline for applications in 20 January 2014.


Further details including job description and application information will soon be available on the NMS website 

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