About the Project
This project will contribute towards ethnically inclusive British design and photographic histories, aligning with urgent calls for representative and decolonial disciplines. It aims to:
1.use the Black Country Visual Arts’ Apna and Punjabi Workers photographic archives to study the relationship between factory work, leisure and domesticity and their photographic representations. In particular, the collections will form the departure point for exploration of the role of industrial production and manual labour in the lives of the Punjabi diasporic communities, for whom, owing to migration laws, work formed a lynchpin for creating a home in post-war Britain.
2.examine how archival resources can contribute to greater understandings of the processes of home-making, production of British identities and community heritage practices amid chronic racism in the Black Country from the 1960s
3.analyse the role and agency of the photographic archive in the constructions of memories of ‘homeland’ through the survey and interpretation of extant collections and the recording, collecting and preservation of further photographs.
The student will have the opportunity to devise their own project with supervisory guidance, and consult supporting and comparative sources for historical and contextual material: Wolverhampton City Archives; Birmingham Central Library; Jubilee Arts Archive; the Open University Making Britain database; the Indian Workers’ Association Archive at the National Archives, and the British Library Asians in Britain collections. Objects and spaces featured in the BCVA photographs, such as Indian dolls, garlands, domestic interiors and industrial sewing machines will help develop a material understanding of the diaspora experience. The student will be introduced to BCVA archives and activities, the key organisational partners Wolverhampton City Archives (where a desk space will be provided) and the Indian Workers’ Association, as well as links to the community for object analysis and oral history interviews.
In addition to developing research and academic writing skills, this project will provide the student opportunities to gain practical skills in installing exhibitions, delivering workshops, working with artists, grant development and fundraising, as well as, in the context of Covid-19, building diverse audiences for the archives online, via online exhibitions, social media and blogs. This project will prepare the student for future work in the cultural sector and academia.
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