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Results of the 2007 Academy Research Projects Competition

The British Academy issued a Call for Proposals for new Academy Research Projects in 2007. As a result of the competition, eight new Academy Research Projects have been formally adopted. Details of these projects are given below.

An Archive for China: Photographs in British Collections

To locate, digitize, and disseminate through a website, photographs of pre-1950s China held in private hands in the United Kingdom. To communicate to owners the historical value of such private materials (and related other media), and to archive them for research, and for use by the wider international public. To support and develop new research using this resource through publications and workshops/seminars in the UK and internationally, not least in China itself. The project has already garnered strong international interest, through the website (, and through an exhibition, ‘Picturing China 1870–1950’, being held at 3 locations (Brunei Gallery, SOAS; Bath’s Museum of East Asian Art, and Durham University’s Oriental Museum). A tentative link for the exhibition is also being discussed with University of California San Diego, and for the project with the Chinese journal La zhaopian (Old Photographs), with one of whose editors Professor Bickers was meeting in China.

Professor R A Bickers, Professor of History, Bristol

Commodities of Empire, 1800-2000

The project aims to explore the networks through which a range of commodities circulated within, between, and beyond empires in the 19th and 20th centuries through comparisons between different spatial contexts in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It seeks to assess the differential impact of these commodity networks on various regions and societies in both north and south. It also aims to introduce new historical perspectives from the world beyond Europe and thereby interrogate earlier as well as more recent periods of globalisation.

Dr S K Hazareesingh, Lecturer, the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open

Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic (DASG)

DASG aims to preserve and enhance the archive generated by the Historical Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic (HDSG) project (1966–96) by digitising it and making it publicly available on the internet. The enhanced resource created will assist the production of further educational resources, and will facilitate and stimulate new research in a variety of disciplines, including Celtic (Gaelic) Studies and the Social Sciences. The paper slip archive has already provided the vital basis for the development of the editorial foundation of the inter-university project Faclair na Gàidhlig [‘Dictionary of the Scottish Gaelic Language’], and a number of lexicological articles, drawing on the rich resources of the archive, have been published.

Professor R Ó Maolalaigh, Professor of Gaelic, Glasgow

Acquisition and Loss of Nationality: A Study of Citizenship in and across Modern States

The project will involve the building of a unique web-based ‘observatory’ of citizenship laws and policies in Europe, expanding and updating an existing website at present associated with IMISCOE, an FP6 network coming to the end of its core funding period in April 2008. The project focuses on the 27 EU Member States, current candidate states, and others with potential candidate status, plus Norway and Switzerland. Building on the existing website and making use of an existing and evolving transnational network of scholars, additional country analyses will be added, along with detailed comparative studies for all states covered. The website will also publish studies undertaken by scholars using the primary material and primary analyses offered by the website and it will work towards incorporation into a wider observatory of ‘European democracy’ (EUDO), based at the EUI, as a sub-observatory.

Professor J Shaw, Salvesen Professor of European Institutions, Edinburgh

The Occupational Structure of Britain, 1379-1911

The aims of the project are: to create datasets that will allow us to reconstruct as fully as possible, the occupational structure of Britain over as long a period as possible (currently 1379–1911); to encourage and help other scholars to undertake parallel exercises for other countries; and to facilitate other scholars to make use of these datasets and to use them ourselves to pursue a series of fundamental research questions in both British and global economic history. The primary audience is comprised of economic historians but the findings will be of more general interest to both historians and economists and also to a wider public. The first phase of the project, on the period 1750–1851 was judged ‘outstanding’ by the ESRC and has already significantly changed our understanding of both the nature and timing of the first industrial revolution: in particular there is overwhelming evidence that the divergence of England began much earlier than previously supposed (see

Dr L M W Shaw-Taylor, Lecturer in British 18th and 19th Century Economic and Social History, Cambridge

The Development of the Welsh Language

Since 1998 the project has been gathering materials for the first historical grammar of Welsh to appear for many years, the only one to be based on all the manuscript evidence. It does so partly by bringing the relevant scholars together and partly by co-ordinating applications for funds for digitalization projects and overseeing them. The history of the Welsh language has already been transformed by the machine-readable texts of all pre-1300 prose MSS issued on CD in 2002 by the Departments of Welsh in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea, and by the end of 2007 much more material, post-1300, will be available on the web from Cardiff’s AHRC Resource Enhancement sub-project: many hundred thousand lines of text. It is expected that further digitalization sub-projects will obtain funding and require co-ordination by the Development of the Welsh Language project. In any case digesting and interpreting the material already collected will be a formidable task. The results should interest scholars concerned with the evolution of languages in general as well as the Celtic ones.

Professor P P Sims-Williams, FBA, Professor of Celtic Studies, Wales, Aberystwyth

The Egypt Exploration Society Delta Survey

The aim of the Delta Survey is to recover and present information on archaeological sites in the rapidly developing Egyptian Nile Delta region, charting settlement patterns, their relationship to the environment and chronological evolution. It has become a growing knowledge base, freely published on line, for use by archaeologists, historians, researchers of the palaeoenvironment and interested members of the public. It is already being used internationally for the planning of future work, to identify sites at high risk or those with significant potential for new discoveries.

Dr A J Spencer, Deputy Keeper, Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, The British Museum

Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, 1851-1951

The project’s objective is to create an authoritative online database delivering significant new research on 3,000–3,500 sculptors and 900–1,100 related businesses and trades active in Britain and Ireland between 1851 and 1951. Mapping Sculpture 1851–1951 aims to extend existing art historical methodologies by exploring the role and significance of creative collaborations, art infrastructures, professional networks and cultural geographies. This approach will enable the complex web of relationships between people, objects, organisations, events and places to be revealed and transform the way in which the practice and profession of sculpture is seen and understood. The project also seeks to build an enduring partnership between the University of Glasgow (GU), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (V&A) and Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (HMI), and through this association promote inter-disciplinary exchanges between scholars and curators and initiate knowledge transfer from an academic context to the general public.

Professor A Yarrington, Richmond Professor of Fine Art, Glasgow