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 

International symposium to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the America

Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia 
15 - 17 May 2014

Entitled Exhibitingconcepts, experiencing meanings: current and future curatorial challenges, the symposium will bring together curators and specialists from within and beyond the regions of Africa, Oceania and the Americas to discuss the intellectual and other challenges posed by exhibiting and displaying cultural materials from those regions. Academics/curators with responsibility for, or interest in, anthropological, archaeological and art collections from Africa, Oceania and the Americas are encouraged to attend, as this will be an opportunity to assess current thinking and make international contacts. Students in museum studies and other programmes are especially welcome.

Speakers include Emmanuel Kasarherou (Musée du quai Branly/Centre Tjibaou), Joe Horse Capture (NMAI, Washington DC), Kiprot Lagat (National Museums of Kenya), Gaye Sculthorpe (British Museum), Polly Nooter Roberts (UCLA/LACMA), Noelle Kahanu (Bishop Museum, Honolulu), Colin McEwan (Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC), Boris Wastiau (Musée d' Ethnographie, Geneva), Cristiana Barreto (University of São Paulo).

Details about the symposium fee, accommodation, etc, will be available in early January 2014. To register interest and be placed on the mailing list, please contact Lynne Crossland 

2 December 2013

Vacancy – Interpretation expert Albania

The project
 An interpretation specialist is needed for a training project in Gjirokastra, Albania.  This project will help local participants to conserve and interpret museum collections of unique textiles currently housed in the EthnographicMuseum in the historic city of Gjirokastra.
Gjirokastra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southern Albania; a historic Ottoman influenced town built around a 13th century castle. Its 43,000 residents include Albanian, Greek, Vlach and Roma communities.  The area has a rich textile history, with much of the production of costume and textiles traditionally undertaken by women. However, in recent decades many of these traditional skills have been dying out. The project will be based at the Ethnographic Museum which holds outstanding costume and textile collections.  The building is currently threatened due to roof leaks and structural problems.  Likewise objects are suffering due to lack of resources. 

Our partner  organisation, is planning a project to revitalise the wool processing industry in this area. The aim of this project is to increase the quality of textile handcrafts and to develop new products based on wool that can be sold in the Artisan Centre in Gjirokastra.
In March 2013 HWB will be running a pilot project with the following key objectives:

-       Specialist training for regional museum professionals in textile conservation and interpretation; and
-       practical improvements to the historical collection of textiles in Ethnographic Museum of Gjirokastra. 

The project is made possible by a generous grant from the Clothworkers Foundation. 

HWB is currently putting together a team of volunteers who will be responsible for training individuals as well as working on practical interpretation projects on site.  The project will involve: 

-       Planning a training programme;
-       Delivering training to the course participants in the principles of interpretation and ways of engaging audiences with displays and collections;
-       Improving the interpretation of a range of textiles;
-       Engaging local craftswomen;
-       Helping to set out an achievable strategic plan for long-term interpretation in the Museum with regards to textiles;
-       Documenting work completed with reports and photography;
-       Providing insight into interpretation needs and potential follow up projects in the region; and
-       Evaluating the programme by blogging, keeping a diary, participating in follow up discussions.

Person specification
HWB is looking for highly motivated individuals who are excited about communicating interpretation across cultures and working on-site.  We are looking for applicants with relevant higher education training and substantial experience of interpretation.  The skills we are seeking include:

-       Understanding issues around the interpretation of conflict and ethnographic objects, particularly recent conflict;
-       Excellent communication skills, interpersonal and written;
-       Sensitivity to cultural difference
-       Motivated self-starters who can pitch in with a range of tasks;
-       Team players;
-       Language skills in Kosovan, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Macedonian or Albanian are not necessary, but would be an asset; and  
-       Enthusiasm for working internationally.

Heritage Without Borders values the volunteer experience.  To that end, we will equip all volunteers with detailed information about the project before going.  Volunteers must be available for a pre-departure meeting.  HWB will fund the successful applicants’ travel and subsistence costs.  HWB does not pay volunteers for their time.      
The on-site workshop will be 10 days and will take place between 31 March – 9 April.  The successful candidate must be available for the duration of the project.  Travel to and from Gjirokastra may require additional days before and after the project.  These will be confirmed at a later date in cooperation with the successful candidates.     

How to apply
UK residents only are eligible to apply
Submit a CV and covering letter via email
Deadline:  6 December 2013
Any questions about the role can be emailed to: info@heritagewithoutborders.org