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PhD Studentship: Forging Identities: Telford and the Ironbridge Gorge c. 1968-2023

Keele University

AHRC-funded PhD Studentship at Keele University in collaboration with Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT). 

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD in History, supervised collaboratively by Keele University, the University of Manchester, and The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT): Forging Identities: Telford and the Ironbridge Gorge c. 1968-2023.’ This is an exciting opportunity to work with one of the UK’s most significant world heritage sites on a project with the potential to tackle significant questions in the fields of twentieth-century British History, Critical Heritage and Community History.

This is offered under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award programme within the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership. The student will be supervised by Dr Ben Anderson (Keele), Dr Charlotte Wildman (Manchester), and Dr Mike Nevell (Industrial Heritage Support Officer for England, IGMT). This full-time studentship, which is funded for 3.5 years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 September 2024. It is especially suitable for students with a background in twentieth-century British History and Heritage, oral history and/or community engagement.

The Project

The sequence of museums and heritage sites that populate the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site are best known for their eighteenth- and nineteenth-century innovation, engineering and industrial history. The status of the Gorge as a national, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, rests just as squarely on twentieth-century contexts – the optimism of post-war planning, technology, and the ‘great acceleration’. In 1968 these came together in the new town of Telford, redefining the once-dominant, and still-active industrial communities of Ironbridge as a cultural artifact. In collaboration with Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) and nearby communities, the project will investigate the complex symbiosis between Telford and Ironbridge since the late 1960s, using heritage co-production and co-curation to allow Telford people’s stories to become a part of Ironbridge’s rich narrative, and increasing IGMT’s capacity to engage diverse nearby populations. This will allow the project to answer outstanding questions on the use of heritage by new towns and their populations, the challenges of ‘World Heritage Sites’ in engaging both local and global audiences in the late-twentieth century, and how far techniques such as co-production or co-curation might bring new dynamism to relationships between the many stories of Ironbridge and the many communities of Telford.

The project will be shaped according to the successful candidate’s interests and expertise, but has the following objectives and possible research questions:

1. Build on recent innovations in socially-engaged art, co-production and/or co-curation to interrogate the potential for Telford communities to co-produce their narratives as integral to the World Heritage site. Applicants will be expected to conduct Oral History Interviews as a part of their research.

How can Ironbridge be understood as ‘dynamic living heritage’ (Dharmiasih, 2020), whose narratives are still unfolding?

Whose stories are missing from the site? How can academics contribute to alternative narratives?

2. Investigate the place of the past in the post-war new-towns movement.

Did heritage provide a means to assert caesuras, or did planners and other advocates seek to evoke new towns as a continuity with past industrial identities, potentially overriding new residents’ backgrounds?

How far did old and/or new residents use heritage to establish identities or subvert authority?

Was Ironbridge more than a peripheral asset to Telford’s identity?

How did heritage ‘status’ change communities’ engagement with ‘new’ towns?

3. Provide new perspectives on the well-documented difficulties faced by ‘World Heritage Sites’ in catering to both global audiences and local identities.

How have IGMT and other affiliated organisations navigated tensions between local memories and uses of the site, and the narratives and experiences demanded by global audiences?

How does have these tensions intersected with differences between people, businesses and industries within the Gorge itself, and those of the Telford conurbation?

How has Ironbridge responded to changing regional demographics in the twentieth century? 

The successful applicant will work with dedicated engagement staff at IGMT on oral histories and innovative participant-action research. This will be supported by training at Keele, Manchester, and via the MethodsNW training hub, and may include paid employment opportunities at IGMT and Keele where this benefits the student’s doctoral research and future career development.

The Studentship

The studentship is awarded subject to AHRC eligibility criteria and covers tuition fees for all three and a half years and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. The national minimum doctoral stipend for 2024/5 has been set by Research Councils UK as £19,237 per annum for Collaborative Doctoral Students. For more information visit: UKRI 2024-25 Stipend

Students are also eligible to draw additional funding to support the cost of training, research trips, conferences, and other development opportunities that will benefit the student’s doctoral research and future career development.

How to Apply

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in History or a related discipline, and will need to satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements including Masters-level advanced research training or equivalent.

In general, full studentships 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. International applicants are eligible to apply for this studentship and Keele University will consider covering the cost of additional international fees.

The NWCDTP and Keele University particularly welcomes applications from students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in Higher Education. In support of these commitments the University welcomes applications from welcomes applications Global Majority, Disabled, and Socioeconomically Unequal communities.

Keele University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN charter, and values equality and diversity across our workforce and study body. We strive to ensure that our workforce and study body is representative of broader society, and therefore, we would actively welcome applications from women for this role.

The University is committed to operating flexible working practices wherever possible.

For information or informal enquiries about the studentship, please contact Dr Ben Anderson (b.anderson@keele.ac.uk) Enquiries about the application process should be directed to (dtp.pgr@keele.ac.uk).

To apply online for this vacancy and for full post details and copies of job descriptions, please click on the 'Apply' button above and select ‘Apply’ on the bottom of the studentship page, and include the following:

  • a curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages);
  • a sample of writing (3-5,000 words);
  • a letter (one page) outlining their interest in and qualification for the studentship;
  • transcripts of undergraduate and Masters qualifications;
  • two academic references, which the candidate should request the referee to send.
  • The studentship reference ‘AHRC CDA – Ironbridge to ensure your application is considered for the funded position. 

Applications must be received no later than 5pm on Wednesday 20th March 2024

Please note it is the responsibility of applicants to request references from their referees and ensure that they have been received by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences by this deadline. All documents should be submitted in either a MS Word or PDF format.

Interview date: Tuesday 26th March or 27th March 2024. Interviews will be conducted online or in-person.

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Keele
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £19,237 per annum, doctoral stipend for 2024/25
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 27th February 2024
Closes: 20th March 2024
   
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