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Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities

What does it mean to rebuild and recover?

Corfe Castle

Theme lead: Prof. Joanna Sofaer

SIAH was launched just as the long-term effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the cultural and creative industries were making themselves felt. We are working with partner organisations, including the AHRC, ACE, NESTA and Historic England, to understand how to support these key industries. Our research is also providing new kinds of data that demonstrates the vital role that culture and heritage play in social and economic regeneration.

Current SIAH projects

Legacies for the Twenty-First Century: Landscape, Remembrance and the Visualisation of the Former Internment Camp at Gurs in France.

Lead Researcher: Dr Scott Soo

Legacies for the Twenty-First Century explores the aftermath of conflict and mass internment in France through a case study of the Gurs Camp. In addition to studying the commemorative trajectory of the camp, this project’s long-term aim is to develop the use of digital humanities to facilitate virtual visits to the site. SIAH-HEIF funding is supporting fieldwork that is exploring how the research methods of history can be combined with experimental and innovative processes of photographic and film production. The results will be incorporated into a short film and will additionally form the basis for further funding applications.

Image: Gurs camp cemetery, 1963. Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe, 8/BA Schlesiger A10a/29/3/li.

Recent SIAH projects

Places of Joy: Heritage After Lockdown

Lead Researcher: Prof. Joanna Sofaer

The economic and social effects of the COVID crisis are likely to lead to an extended period of widespread public anxiety. Provision of non-clinical solutions to the promotion of public wellbeing using existing resources is therefore vital.  A collaboration between , Places of Joy: The Role of Heritage After Lockdown investigates whether and why heritage appears as a joyful space at a time of national crisis, and thus to understand the specific characteristics of heritage sites that contribute to wellbeing and resilience.  The research uses the unique period following the release of lockdown, when access to heritage is regained after a period of deprivation, to explore the potentials of heritage by examining: 

What motivates people to visit heritage spaces after lockdown? What needs do access to heritage spaces satisfy?
How does heritage function to create wellbeing? What are the specific qualities of heritage sites that might enhance public wellbeing? How does an understanding of these qualities allow us to reflect on what heritage is?
What impacts do visits have on people and how might this affect attitudes and visits to heritage sites going forward? Do visits to heritage sites during Covid-19 lead to change in the perceived value of heritage?

Stories of Spaces and Places

Lead Researcher: Prof Joanna Sofaer

Stories of Spaces and Places is a citizen science project in collaboration with the Council for British Archaeology and University of Surrey examining the role of special places and their role in wellbeing.

Do you have a space or place that is special to you? Is there a particular story or experience that you associate with it? How does it make you feel? Stories of Spaces and Places is an opportunity to share pictures, memories and feelings about your favourite places with us.

Click here to send us a picture of your special place, tell us why it is special to you, and take a short survey to tell us how that place makes you feel. Contribute to our collage of special places in the UK and beyond.

Help us to find out what makes places special!

Prof. Joanna Sofaer talks about the project here.

Scoping the South: Literature Provision and the Creative Industries

Lead Researcher: Dr Will May

This SIAH-funded project is a collaboration between Will May (English), and Artful Scribe, a regional literature development agency covering Hampshire and Dorset.  

The project will produce a regional survey of literature development opportunities in the region, creating a database of organisers, producers, and active facilitators.  

The team will create case studies of good practice across the region, identify existing connections, networks, and audiences clustered across Hampshire’s towns, cities and village, and identify cold spots in existing provision.  

Will said: ‘research and development work is vital to help local creative organisations grow their capacity and support a rage of communities in our region’. The scoping process and completed report will also help the new institute develop its understanding of the local creative economy, supporting Southampton’s preparations for the City of Culture 2025 bid.  

Mapping the Creative Coast

Lead Researcher: Dr Seth Giddings

Working with the University of Portsmouth this project will collate and build on pilot studies at both universities to gather and analyse data on the digital creative sector in the South Central Coastal region.

The project will gather detailed data on the range and scale of the region’s creative industries, on individual companies, and support agencies. This data will be economic and geographical, producing an interactive map of the sector and region, and will survey a representative selection of regional creative companies about their aspirations, ideas and needs in relation to sectoral support, networking and HEI collaboration. 

The findings will feed into the Coastal Creatives consortium of local universities to inform future funding applications, particularly CCF initiatives.

A Postcolonial History of Rehabilitation

Lead Researcher: Prof. Stephen Morton

A Postcolonial History of Rehabilitation aims to provide the first thorough comparative study of a topic that is widely debated in the media and has major legal and political consequences for ideas of criminal justice, national security, and human rights, but which legal and cultural historians have not fully explored or understood.

This project charts a global history of rehabilitation with reference to a range of related, but distinct events and archival sources, from reports on penal labour and prison discipline in nineteenth-century Australia and colonial India, to debates about rehabilitation in the context of counter-insurgency operations during the Kenyan land and freedom struggle of the 1950s, and the counter-terrorist rehabilitation camps of the early twenty-first century.

Beyond blood and heroes: Re-evaluating the Royal Navy, c.1764–c.1876

Lead Researchers:  Professor Christer Petley (History) and Dr John McAleer (History)

Collaborator:  The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

This project explores the global and imperial histories of the Royal Navy, looking at the Navy’s activities and purposes beyond military campaigns and battles.

This was a transformative century for Britain as a maritime and imperial power, between the end of the Seven Years War and Queen Victoria’s accession as Empress of India. It also encompasses the period between the circumnavigation of HMS Dolphin, which marked the start of naval engagement in scientific exploration, and the return of HMS Challenger in 1876 from an expedition which defined the modern discipline of oceanography.

Throughout this period, the Royal Navy was of central importance to Britain’s changing empire. The Navy and its personnel were deeply invested in imperial transformations: from commercial agriculture in the Atlantic towards a global empire connected to an industrialised economy; from a political economy built around the transatlantic slave system towards one defined by the politics of anti-slavery; from an eighteenth-century mercantile fiscal-military state towards a nineteenth-century empire of free trade. Simultaneously, the Navy and its personnel played a critical role in developing scientific disciplines and contributing to scientific research through surveying and collecting activities. Indeed, the acquisition of nautical, geographical, and other forms of scientific data were intertwined with British geopolitical concerns—the acquisition of knowledge and power interlinked.

This project focuses on how those connected themes—the experience of empire and the acquisition of scientific knowledge—informed the everyday professional lives of generations of naval officers and men. In doing so, it draws on the extensive collections of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.

Towns and the Cultural Economies of Recovery

Project investigators: Prof. Nicky Marsh, Will May, Michael Howcroft (University of Hull) and Prof. Catherine Clarke (University of London)

AHRC: Where Next Scoping Project Programme 

This AHRC-funded scoping project explores the research priorities which will enhance our understanding of the role that culture plays in the economic recovery, renewal and resilience of towns.

The project follows the 100 towns fund as it seeks to ‘invest £3.6 billion into over 100 towns, as part of the government’s plan to level up our regions’. It will collaborate with local communities, and a range of expert partners and stakeholders, to analyse how culture is invoked by towns as they seek to deploy this funding.  

It will explore the varied economic infrastructures of the creative, cultural and heritage industries in order to suggest the roles they play in civic regeneration. It will propose interventions and methodologies that will enable future researchers to respond innovatively to the cultural and creative industries as they support social and economic regeneration in the context of changing regional infrastructures and the wake of the current crisis. 

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