Explore Public Humanities Hub Research Clusters Awarded: 2020

5 headshots side by side of the Principal Investigators of the 2020 Public Humanities Hub Research Clusters: Katherine Bowers, Gregory Mackie, Althea Thauberger, Erik Kwakkel, and Alan Richardson

The Eurasia Research Cluster (Dr. Katherine Bowers, CENES, PI)

Eurasia is a landmass encompassing Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberia, and Mongolia. While there are many important historical reasons for the region’s importance, there are certainly compelling political, economic, and social dynamics in today’s world that urge critical scholarly attention from UBC experts. The Eurasia Research Cluster brings together UBC-V and UBC-O’s top researchers in the humanities and social sciences with regional expertise on Eurasia to foster interdisciplinary discussion, organize guest talks and film screenings, and cross-institutional exchange. The cluster’s most significant research topic is Eurasia itself, but beyond regional focus, team members’ interests broadly coalesce around three themes:
– International affairs, policy and human rights
– Connectivity and identity
– Developing public outreach and learning capacity in and about Eurasia

Unsettling Victorians: A Rare Books Exhibition for NAVSA 2020 (Dr. Gregory Mackie, ENGL, PI)

A major exhibition of Victorian rare books, literary manuscripts, letters and ephemera will be mounted in the fall of 2020 to coincide with the meeting in Vancouver of the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA), the premier conference in the field. UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections holds several significant collections of material reflecting British literary culture, art, and history from the period of roughly 1850-191 0; these include the Norman Colbeck Collection, the Angeli-Dennis Papers, the Penkill Castle Papers, and the Haweis family fonds. The Colbeck Collection alone, which comprises some 13,000 rare and often unique volumes, is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Victorian and Edwardian material. Surprisingly, these rich collections are relatively little known and underused by scholars, and so one of the primary objectives of this project is to share some of our treasures – to inform both the academic community and larger public in Vancouver about the extraordinary cultural resources in our Library’s vaults. NAVSA’s 2020 theme of “Unsettling Victorians” is being interpreted here in an expansive way to include historical materials that unsettle, disturb, or trouble not only established nineteenth-century notions about literature, art, religion, and sexuality, but also our preconceptions about that era.

Critical Image Forum: Research in Photography and Expanded Documentary (Dr. Althea Thauberger, AHVA, PI)

Critical Image Forum is a research cluster that is part of the Public Humanities Hub at The University of British Columbia. Our scholarly and practice-based research is concerned with critical dialogues on political, ethical, aesthetic and social dimensions of documentary practices. Our backgrounds span the disciplines of cultural theory, art, art history, media studies, and journalism. We are primarily focused on photographic practices, but our work also touches on sound and filmmaking. Contact: Dr. Althea Thauberger, althea.thauberger@ubc.ca

Tracing the Scribe: Reassessing Professional Networks in the Paris Book Trade (Dr. Erik Kwakkel, iSchool, PI)

The most important illuminated manuscripts from fourteenth-century Europe were produced in Paris and are extensively studied due to their art-historical significance. This project begins to fill a major lacuna in existing scholarship by focusing on the activities of scribes. Leveraging emergent digital technologies, Tracing the Scribe studies how inclusion of this dynamic enriches our understanding of the Parisian book trade.

Using thirty-six manuscripts associated with the prolific illuminator Mahiet (c. 1325-1350), the project studies a complete professional network in Paris. Variations in letter formation will be mobilized to trace individual scribes. This information will then be integrated in a digital environment, together with evidence regarding the illuminators and booksellers in the network. Tracing the Scribe is thus able to study scribes and their professional associations, and to assess in what way scribes add to our comprehensive understanding of professional book production.

Project members: Dr. Erik Kwakkel (PI, School of Information), Paul Joseph (UBC Libraries), Dr. Patrick Moran (FHIS), Alvionne Gardner Harrison (Graduate Research Assistant)

Reasonable Trust: Fostering Humanities Methods in Public Engagement with Science and Technology (Dr. Alan Richardson, PHIL, PI)

Public trust in science is in a complicated state. While scientists continue to score high on public surveys of trust in the professions, it is well-known that in areas where social action is needed (climate change, for example) trust becomes more limited and unable to secure coherent policy or action. Similarly, while new fields of science such as data science and machine learning show great promise, they bring with them many social anxieties, including concerns about the replication of bias and ownership of data. Moreover, while it is often assumed that science speaks the truth and should be trusted, it is clear that sometimes mistrust in science is warranted—the manifold problems of privatized medical research provide just one set of such examples. This cluster will look at two cases that raise issues for public trust in science to forge a more adequate language of public epistemology and social responsibility for public discourse about them. The two areas are data science and the mental health research. We will bring to bear on these issues methods from science and technology studies, history and philosophy of science, rhetoric of science and medicine, health humanities, and applied ethics.


VPRI-funded Research Clusters 2020-2021

Interdisciplinary History (Dr. Anne Murphy, ASIA, PI)

The Wingspan Disability Arts, Culture and Public Pedagogy (Dr. Leslie Roman, EDST, PI)

Migration  (Dr. Antje Ellermann (POLI) and Dr. Suzanne Huot (OSOT), co-PI)

Indigenous/Science: Exploring Histories and Environments (Dr. Alison Wylie, PHIL, and Eric Simons, ANTH, co-PI)