A Paper World: The Collection & Investigation of Plant Materials for Paper
Making, c.1830-1914

AHRC PhD Studentship

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship on the history
of collections of plant materials for paper making at Royal Holloway,
University of London, in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
This award, tenable for three years and covering both fees and an enhanced
maintenance grant, is made by the TECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership
under the National Productivity Investment Fund Partnership Award scheme.
The project, due to begin in September 2017 or as soon as possible
thereafter, will be supervised by Professor Felix Driver (at Royal
Holloway) and Dr Mark Nesbitt (RBG Kew).

The Project

Innovations in the technology of print and the vast expansion of publishing
during the nineteenth century stimulated the global search for new sources
of paper. A wide variety of natural sources for paper-making were
experimented with prior to the large-scale mechanisation of papermaking
using wood pulp from the 1880s. While the economics of papermaking
attracted the attention of industrialists and botanists, there was also a
longstanding ethnographic interest in techniques of indigenous papermaking,
stimulated by the accounts of overseas travellers and explorers. This
combination of economic and ethnographic interest inspired the assembling
of collections of different types of paper, analogous to collections of
indigenous textiles in the period. Focussing on the unrivalled collection
of plant materials and manufactured papers from many parts of the world
held in the Economic Botany Collection at Kew, the studentship provides an
opportunity to explore the economic, cultural and technical significance of
the search for alternative sources of material for paper making during the
Victorian era. The PhD thesis is likely to take the form of a series of
well-chosen case studies, raising wider questions concerning the formation
of knowledge about raw materials, technologies and commodities. In addition
to work with the Economic Botany Collection at Kew, the project will
involve archival research in official, business and private papers at Kew
and elsewhere in the UK. There will also be opportunities within the public
programmes of RBG Kew to present this research to wider audiences. The
project forms part of an ongoing research collaboration between Royal
Holloway and Kew Gardens, including a large AHRC project led by the
co-supervisors ('The Mobile Museum: Economic Botany in Circulation').

The Studentship

The studentship includes a stipend of £16,553 (plus fees at home/EU rates)
for three years. There is an additional NPIF £550 per year to facilitate
engagement with the Partner, and students can apply for an additional six
months stipend to engage in extended development activities such as work
placements. As a TECHNE student, the successful candidate will have full
access to the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership development activities
and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of about 50 students per
year from across seven universities in London and the south-east. TECHNE
students can apply for additional funding to support individual or group
training and development activities.

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in history, geography,
anthropology or other relevant discipline. Preference may be given to
candidates with prior experience in working with material culture, museum
and/or archival collections, though others are encouraged to apply.
Applicants must meet the UK/EU residency requirements as described in
paragraphs 43-46 of the 'Conditions of Research Council Training Grants'
and comply with conditions set out in the AHRC Training Grant Funding

How to Apply

Applicants should submit (1) a two-page curriculum vitae, including contact
details of one academic referee, and (2) a 1-2 page letter outlining your
qualification for the studentship to: Professor Felix Driver, Dept of
Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX
(f.driver@rhul.ac.uk) no later
than 4 August 2017.

Interviews are scheduled to be held at Kew on 16 August 2017.

Further Information

Full project details