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Haunting, Heritage, and Justice: Archiving Industrial Trauma for the Future (RDF23/GES/GRIFFIN)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr Paul Griffin, Dr Jacob Miller  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Extending historical geography’s engagement with haunting, heritage, and social justice, this project uncovers the histories of industrial death and injury in coalfield communities. Working with Northumberland Archives, this research will consider their role in shaping memories of industrial trauma. In doing so, the project will question the role of archives in connecting past and present, troubling their practices with questions around the presence of ghosts within post-industrial landscapes. It will contribute new ways of thinking for the archive, as well as extending cultural and historical geography by reflecting on the navigation of trauma in archival records.

The Northumberland Coal Owners Mutual Protection Association Minutes (1881-1953) detail the troubling injuries sustained by miners in the region. These archives contain many hauntings, insofar as the traces of industrial trauma remain alive in this textual practice: the injury refuses to be forgotten. Working in collaboration between Northumbria University and Northumberland Archives (NA), the project will explore these archives to uncover the historical geographies of death and injury in British coalfields. In doing so, it offers an intervention into a regional history that has shaped a cultural geography of trauma, place and community.

Working with hauntology – an approach that sees all existence as constituted by what is missing or excluded – will allow a reflection on archival work with traumatic histories. Combining notions of violence, tragedy, social justice and solidarity asks critical questions of how such troubling pasts, for example the papers relating to the 1916 Woodhorn Disaster as also held at NA, might be represented. The intention here is to expand on the discussion of such violence, by way of a hauntology, to reveal a wider realm of experience. Through close engagement with these archives and comparative records elsewhere, the student will consider the response of communities to such moments, through an interest in the longer trajectories of traumatic events.

The conceptual work will be applied by acknowledging the link between hauntology and social justice, often overlooked in work on ghosts, to reveal a more hopeful vision of such histories. This will include attentiveness to trauma, but will also document community responses, such as immediate acts of aid and support, as well as longer-term acts of community building and campaigning (as reflected in the archives through trade union responses and compensation claims). Such a reading of haunting as holding elements of hope alongside the stifling nature of trauma has not always been stressed in associated scholarship. As such, more creative and innovative approaches to writing and storytelling, as developed in the final year of the project, will be encouraged when engaging with such fragmented and partial archival remains.

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by Dr Paul Griffin. For informal queries, please contact [Email Address Removed]. For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions. 

Funding Information

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2022/23 full-time study this is £17,668 per year) and full tuition fees. Studentships are also available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £10,600 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities).  

Please also see further advice below of additional costs that may apply to international applicants.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.  Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence, and be aware of the following additional costs that may be incurred, as these are not covered by the studentship.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application
  • If you need to apply for a Student Visa to enter the UK, please refer to the information on https://www.gov.uk/student-visa. It is important that you read this information very carefully as it is your responsibility to ensure that you hold the correct funds required for your visa application otherwise your visa may be refused.
  • Check what COVID-19 tests you need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19
  • Costs associated with English Language requirements which may be required for students not having completed a first degree in English, will not be borne by the university. Please see individual adverts for further details of the English Language requirements for the university you are applying to.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and the advert reference (e.g. RDF23/…).

Deadline for applications: 27 January 2023

Start date of course: 1 October 2023 tbc

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers.


Making usable pasts: collaboration, labour and activism in the archive, Griffin, P. Dec 2018, In: Area
Unemployed Workers’ Centres (1978–): Spatial Politics,“Non-Movement”, and the Making of Centres, Griffin, P. 27 Oct 2022, In: Antipode
Labour, carcerality and punishment: ‘less-than-human’ labour landscapes, Cassidy, K., Griffin, P., Wray, F. 1 Dec 2020, In: Progress in Human Geography

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Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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