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Centre for Research Collections Fellowships 2021, University of Edinburgh, UK

Publish Date: Mar 21, 2021

Deadline: Apr 30, 2021

Centre for Research Collections Fellowships

Applications are invited for Centre for Research Collections Fellowships (previously known as Library Fellowships) from postdoctoral scholars in any area of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, to carry out research based on any of the Heritage Collections held at the University of Edinburgh.

The University’s collections include archives, manuscripts, rare books, art, musical instruments and other museum collections representing four centuries of collecting, and occupying 100km of shelving.  They are managed by a multi-disciplinary team of curators within the Centre for Research Collections (CRC).   The collections offer almost limitless possibilities for research across a wide range of scholarly disciplines.  The Fellowships offer privileged access to the collections and curatorial team, enabling forms of collections-based research which are difficult to accomplish through ordinary reading room services.  The Fellows are expected to be correspondingly engaged with the CRC, contributing to projects or events as appropriate.

IASH provides an enviable location in one of the world’s most intellectually inspiring cities, together with a dynamic network of international connections. Home to the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh has a rich cultural heritage of scholarship and creativity that continues to the present day. In this haven of libraries and archives, galleries and music venues – all set amid iconic architecture – IASH helps scholars to take the humanities beyond campus to engage the public and work with organisations in a variety of sectors.

The Institute welcomes visiting researchers from across the world. Since 1970, over 1,250 Fellows have stepped through our doors. Up to 30 researchers are in residence at any one time in our amazing – and eclectic – nineteenth-century building just on the edge of the University’s central campus, boasting views of the Meadows. From more than 65 countries, IASH Fellows form a global alumni community, and many career-long connections begin at the Institute.


The collections

There are numerous areas of potential focus. At this time we encourage applications focused on one of the following:


The University of Edinburgh’s colonial legacy and alumni roles in the slave trade and/or the histories of Edinburgh graduates and staff of colour

We would particularly welcome applications linked to the themes of the new Institute Project on Decoloniality taking place at IASH from 2021 to 2024. Candidates may also be interested in applying for the new RACE.ED Archival Research Fellowships (up to 10 months) to examine specific special collections held at the University of Edinburgh which provide evidence for research which will be part of the Institute Project on Decoloniality.


Identities and Inequalities

The CRC collections offer a range of objects and materials which explore or illustrate the intertwined concepts of identity and inequality. There is significant research potential not only in collection material and objects, but also in the records connected to the infrastructures and individuals related to the collections’ histories.

  • Records of the Art Collections, including: portraiture; Edinburgh College of Art holdings; Torrie collection; Contemporary Art Research Collection
  • Musical Instrument Collection: Instruments from world cultures, including the Cannon Collection (116 items) and Morris Collection (27 items)
  • The Gilchrist Collection of Scottish school text books and educational material
  • The Archives of the University, including those of merged institutions: Edinburgh College of Art; Moray House
  • Papers of Kenneth McKenzie (Race Relations)
  • Papers of Rev. Bruce Kenrick (Founder of Shelter)
  • Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women


International Connections: Focus on Africa 

There is a wealth of material within the collections which either originates in Africa, or records relationships between Scotland and Africa.  It offers huge research potential, but much of it has been little explored.  Examples of collections include:

  • Centre for the Study of World Christianity – religion, but also education, health and welfare of communities in Africa, through text, audiovisual, photographic material and some objects, e.g.:
    • Records of the Sudan United Mission, focussed on Nigeria
    • Records of Regions Beyond Missionary Union, material on Democratic Republic of Congo
    • Papers of Fergus Macpherson, containing oral histories on Zambian independence
    • Papers of Frank Longley, Nigeria
  • Manuscript books from Ethiopia, and from Arabic-speaking North Africa, some dating back to the 9th century.These are part of the collection of Middle-Eastern manuscripts.
  • Archives documenting a unique relationship with Malawi: Scotland, and the University has had a relationship with Malawi since the 19th century, through educationalists, researchers, missionaries, business people and health workers active there, including:
    • Roberts Laws who established the Presbyterian mission at Livingstonia,
    • Colin Campbell, lawyer, minister in the government and anti-apartheid campaigner
    • Scotland Malawi Partnership
    • Malawi Writers Group, from the 1960s and 1970s
  • Archives documenting scientific research carried out in Africa, including:
    • Papers of Barry Dawson, from his work as part of the Tanganyika Geological Survey in the 1960s. These are held in the Geological Museum.
  • Musical Instruments from cultures across Africa. Further research is required to understand better where some of these instruments originate, in order to interpret their musical and cultural uses.

Materials and Materiality

Any aspect of the materials, production and manufacture of objects in the collection, or the wider context in which they were produced.  Examples of collections which we are particularly keen to see used include, but are not limited to:

  • The New College Pamphlet collection (Scottish publishing of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries)
  • The Freshwater Collection of publishers’ decorated cloth bookbindings
  • The Thomas Nelson Publisher’s Archive, and the associated File Copy Collection
  • The Geological Models Collection, held in the Geological Museum. These include models in a variety formats illustrating crystal structures, geological formations and fossils, as well as relief maps. They have never been properly studied.
  • The Contemporary Art Research Collection, featuring moving image artworks, printed works, sculpture and installation
  • Art Collection Paolozzi Mosaic Fragments
  • Art Collection Performance-based artwork holdings
  • Musical instruments from across the world, using local and readily available materials or materials that have been imported through exploitation or legitimate trade.

What does a Centre for Research Collections Fellowship offer?

IASH hosts a lively scholarly community of visiting fellows. It is a supportive environment for postdoctoral researchers, while also offering networking opportunities with successful mid-career and eminent senior scholars. The Institute occupies a historic building with private courtyard and leafy views – perfect for uninterrupted thinking, reading and writing. Yet there is also plenty of opportunity to socialise and share ideas.

In short, a 2021-2022 Centre for Research Collections Fellowship provides:

  • Research visit at the University of Edinburgh for three to six months
  • Bursary of £1,300 per month
  • Travel allowance of up to £500
  • Dedicated office space at IASH, University e-mail and library access
  • Library workspace with privileged access to collections, support from curatorial and technical staff, and access to the facilities of the Digital Scholarship Centre
  • An allocated University mentor from the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) or a School within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Weekly Fellows’ Lunch to build community
  • Collegial work-in-progress seminar series for testing new ideas
  • Calendar of engaging events at the Institute and College

Who can apply?

We warmly welcome applications from employees of Universities and other organisations engaged in research from around the world. Selection will be subject to the immigration rules governing the UK.  Applicants must be employed for purposes including investigative research and have a suitable project or study to undertake using a specific collection.

Applicants must have been awarded a doctorate at the time of application, and normally within the last five years (you must be able to produce a transcript, testamur, or a letter of completion/eligibility to graduate as part of your application). You should not have held a previous Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. Those who have held temporary and/or short-term appointments are eligible to apply.

For more information click "LINK TO ORIGINAL" below.

Further Official Information

Link to Original

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Opportunity Types


Eligible Countries


Host Countries

United Kingdom