21 May 2020

PhD opportunity: Women collectors of South Asia: gender, material culture, and empire

The University of Lincoln and the British Museum are pleased to announce the availability of a fully-funded Collaborative doctoral studentship from October 2020 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme. We encourage applications from suitable candidates with relevant experience, as well as coming from an academic background. This studentship can be studied full or part-time.
This project explores the critical role that women played in collecting objects from South Asia during the colonial and post-colonial eras, highlighting the agency of women of all backgrounds in the formation of museum collections and knowledge production.
This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Sarah Longair and Dr Sushma Jansari and the student will be expected to spend time at both the University of Lincoln and the British Museum, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK.
Project Overview
This project will investigate the lives, collections, activities, writings, and networks of women collectors and donors of material culture from South Asia to the British Museum and other collections in the UK. It will explore how and why women collected objects and what motivated them, how they acquired knowledge about their collections and the dynamics of their donation of objects to museums.
With a focus on objects from South Asia, this project will be set in a colonial and/or post-colonial context, during which South Asian, British, and later British South Asian women negotiated the challenges of living under the British Empire and its aftermath. It will make an important and original contribution to our understanding of the British Museum as well as other institutions, demonstrating how gender, race, and empire influenced the forging of collections. It will examine how far collecting and engagement with material culture was a means for women to establish their own network, and how these factors aligned with or challenged racial and social divides in imperial and post-imperial settings.
Using the British Museum as a starting point, it will trace the lives of selected women and their collections and donations to the British Museum and other UK museums. Objects themselves will be studied as well as associated archival material. Personal papers and publications will shed further light on the way in which women collected and donated, the networks within which they acted, intermediaries who assisted them, and how this knowledge was disseminated. The research will require the student to spend time researching at the British Museum, along with other museums and archives.
Deadline: 9 June
Interviews are likely to take place on Friday 26 June at the British Museum if permitted by then, otherwise online.

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