AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentship - 'Imperial Flights and Encounters: recovering the experiences of People of Colour in Scottish wartime aviation, 1914-1945'
Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD studentship which will be supervised by Dr Wendy Ugolini.
AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) studentship –
Imperial Flights and Encounters: recovering the experiences of People of Colour in Scottish wartime aviation, 1914-1945
Start date: 1st October 2022
Application Deadline: **Updated - Thurs 5th May 2022 10am**
Interviews will take place on 23rd May 2022
The University of Edinburgh, and National Museums Scotland are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded collaborative doctoral studentship from October 2022 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.
This project is the first sustained attempt to recover and reconstruct the presence of Personnel of Colour within the RAF in Scotland during the two world wars. This project aims to demonstrate the diversity of people connected to flying in Scotland in the two world wars, understand the contributions made and experiences of those individuals, and evidence this through material culture and archival research. It will involve a re-examination of Scottish aviation collections in order to consider how such stories are, or could be, represented in museum collections and displays.
This project will be jointly supervised by Dr Wendy Ugolini, Senior Lecturer, School of History, Classics & Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, and Dr Meredith Greiling, Principal Curator, Technology, National Museums Scotland, and the student will be expected to spend time at both the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland, as well as becoming part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK. The studentship can be studied either full or part-time.
We encourage the widest range of potential students to study for this CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. In light of the ongoing under-representation of scholars and professionals from Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic backgrounds within both UK universities and museums, we would particularly welcome applications from these communities. Students should have a Masters’ Degree in a relevant subject or can demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting.
In 1945 an Air Ministry memorandum estimated that 422 Caribbean, West African and South Asian people had served as aircrew with the RAF during the Second World War, with a further 3,900 serving as ground crew. In the First World War men from India also played active roles in the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Indian Airforce was formed in 1932 with men and women from India being trained and serving in the UK and India throughout the Second World War. It is difficult to know the exact figures of men and women from across the British Empire that served with the RAF, as ethnicity was not automatically recorded on enrolment. At East Fortune airfield in Scotland, now the National Museum of Flight, it is known from personal recorded testimonies and from the airfield’s own Operations Record Book that people came to be trained from all around the world, including pilots and aircrew from Trinidad and Jamaica. Their connections to Scotland range from initial arrival, to being based in Scotland as part of a squadron, attachment to air bases or travelling to Scotland for training. However, their contributions to the war effort are not reflected in the histories told at the National Museum of Flight nor at any of the other aviation museums in Scotland.
This project aims to recover and reconstruct narratives and stories of service personnel of colour from across UK and international museums, archives, service associations and other cultural societies. It will broaden our understanding of the experience of war in Scotland, Scotland’s historic connections with Atlantic slavery, enduring imperial relationships and reciprocal diasporic legacies. As well as analysing narratives and peopling the histories of places in Scotland, this project is also an opportunity to identify surviving material culture to enhance the NMS collections and contribute to future displays.
Additionally, we welcome candidates from a broad range of backgrounds are encouraged to apply and may wish to focus their research on a particular aspect of ethnic diversity in Scottish aviation during the two world wars of the twentieth century based on their previous experience, research, language or cultural knowledge.
Candidates will be expected to shape the project as the research develops.
Research questions could include:
- Who were the people of colour that travelled to Scotland from across the British Empire to serve in the RAF?
- Where were they from and what were their expectations, experiences and memories?
- What is the social and cultural legacy of their time in Scotland?
- What traces of those experiences remain, whether tangible or intangible, within museums and beyond?
- How can a re-examination of collections and displays enable museums to better reflect the experiences of service personnel of colour?
Details of Award
CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.
The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home UKRI rate for PhD degrees. Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2022/23 is £4,596
The award pays full maintenance stipend for all students both home and international students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2022/23 is £16,062, *plus a CDP maintenance payment of £550/year. Further details can be found on the UKRI website https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training/
In addition to the stipend and fees, NMS will contribute up to £1,000 per financial year directly to the student to support collaborative research-related expenses of the student, usually in the form of travel and subsistence.
The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.
- This studentship is open to both Home and International applicants.
- 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
Further guidance can be found here - https://www.ukri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/UKRI-030221-Guidance-International-Eligibility-Implementation-training-grant-holders-V2.pdf
- We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area.
- Applicants should have a 2:1 honours undergraduate qualification and a relevant Masters’ degree in history, war studies, Black British history, museum/heritage studies or a related field. Equivalent international qualifications can be considered. Applicants should have some experience of relevant research methods (but note that research training is a key part of the studentship).
- Applicants without a Masters’ qualification should use the 2-page statement to outline the specifically relevant skills, experience and knowledge they have gained beyond undergraduate degree level, that could be considered equivalent to Masters study.
- Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the museum sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.
- As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both the University and National Museums Scotland.
NB. All applicants must meet UKRI terms and conditions for funding. See:
Applicants should submit within one email:
- a summary curriculum vitae (max. 2 pages)
- a short statement (max. 2 pages) outlining your qualification for the studentship, and initial thoughts on how you would approach the project. Applicants without a Masters’ qualification should outline the specifically relevant skills, experience and knowledge they have gained beyond undergraduate degree level, that could be considered equivalent to Masters study.
- Two completed academic references.
Shortlisted candidates will be invited to submit an example of recent academic writing (e.g., Masters chapter or undergraduate dissertation where the applicant does not have a MA qualification) in advance of the interview. The successful candidate will make an online admissions application for the PhD History 2022/23.
For any queries about the project, please email Dr Wendy Ugolini - email@example.com
Interviews will be held online 23rd May 2022.