Cultural Geographies of LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurship in Scotland

   School of Geosciences

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  Prof T Cresswell, Dr N Morris  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The project is an in-depth consideration of the mechanisms of cultural spaces and places (physical and digital, temporal and permanent) that connect LGBTQ+ communities and their role in facilitating community life and identity. It will focus on LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurs in Scotland and the places they produce as well as the networks of practice that they enable and encourage. While development of an appropriate methodology is open to the successful applicant, the project may utilize interviews and participant observation but also innovative digital humanities methods including Geographical Information Systems, text mining and network analysis in order to produce an accessible online resource for LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurs in Scotland and beyond.

The project will address the geographies of LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurship in Scotland. The particular geographies to be considered may include digital spaces, specific places of cultural entrepreneurship (art galleries, coffee shops, community centres, museums etc.), and less visible networks of connection and practice. The project will focus on the ownership/organization of such spaces but will not ignore use/consumption. The project may also consider temporal questions concerning affordances provided by time-limited events (such as Pride celebrations, queer festivals such as SQIFF, and the LGBTQ+ contribution to the Edinburgh Fringe) vs. places with a longer duration. The student will have the opportunity to use innovative digital humanities techniques using, for instance, QGIS to construct a living digital archive. Finally, there will be a forward-looking aspect to the project, developing a typology of kinds and efficacy of LGBTQ+ spaces that would be useful for reducing isolation and increasing connectedness between LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.

Research questions:
What and where are the spaces of LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurship in Scotland?
Which industries are LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurs working in?
What networks enable and further LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurship in Scotland?
What affordances do time-limited events give LGBTQ+ cultural entrepreneurship in Scotland and how do these compare to the affordances given by more permanent places?

The research will make key contributions both in terms of the subject matter (spaces of LGBTQ+ life in Scotland, cultural entrepreneurship) and methodology (digital humanities). Thematically, the research will contribute to the literature on queer geographies and sexuality and space helping to delineate the ways in which LGBTQ+ life is spatialized into distinctive geographies and how geographies (spaces, places, connections between them) help to facilitate LGBTQ+ identities. The research will necessarily draw on and contribute to theorisations of the role of space and place in the constitution of social and cultural life as well as the more specific work on creative place-making which looks at the roles of creative communities in the production of lively places. This research will be distinctive in its focus on cultural entrepreneurship as an aspect of LGBTQ+ life. Methodologically, this may involve an audit of existing LGBTQ+ archives, structured and unstructured interviews, and comparative analysis of
existing community spaces (possibly including successful ones outside of Scotland – eg Schwules Museum in Berlin). A comprehensive accounting of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurship in Scotland will be accomplished through the establishment of a network of interviewees through snowballing techniques as well as textual scraping techniques used with on line sources such as chat rooms and blogs. If appropriate, the student will be trained in the use of network analysis (using GEPHI and/or Palladio) twinned with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to explore the ways in which spatial networks (connections between spaces) contribute to LGBTQ+ life in Scotland. The research will seek to contrast extensive approaches using digital humanities techniques with selected in-depth case studies that are ethnographic in nature.

The student will take the core training elements provided by SGSAH DTP including the Professional Researcher, Leadership, and Knowledge Exchange components as well as SGSAH Residential courses. Training provided within the Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment includes Research Planning in Human Geography and Methodological Debates in Human Geography. Given the digital humanities nature of this project the student will be part of the Digital Scholarship Initiative in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and will attend training provided by the Centre for Data, Culture and Society including training in R (coding), QGIS, and digital text analysis. The student will have access to the professional skills and development courses run by the Institute for Academic Development.

Funding Notes

SGSAH Collaborative Doctoral Award with Somewhere ( The successful candidate will be funded by AHRC via the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities. This covers fees and a stipend at UKRI level (£15,285 for 2020/21) for 3.5 years.


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