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Hidden in Plain Sight

The Royal Society of Edinburgh research workshop grant brought together specialists from the fields of anthropology and military history to appraise the state of research into non-European military collections.

Specialists developed a critical dialogue for understanding the retention, modification and display of collections within the context of British military organisational culture.

Three collaborative research workshops were held in London and Edinburgh over 2013-2015. A core team of researchers drew widely from colonial history, military history, anthropology and material cultures studies. Leading the workshops were Stuart Allan, Henrietta Lidchi and Alastair Massie with a core group of Clare Harris (University of Oxford); Louise Tythacott (School of Oriental and African Studies);  Sharon MacDonald (University of York); Charles Kirke (Cranfield University); Inbal Livne (University of Stirling/National Museums Scotland); Edward Spiers (University of Leeds); Desmond Thomas (Royal Scots Regimental Museum). As work progressed other scholars and curators joined the workshop including Rosanna Blakeley (BA/Leverhulme Research Assistant), John M. MacKenzie (University of Landcaster); Christopher Evans (University of Cambridge); Emma Halford-Forbes (Black Watch Castle and Museum); John Haymond (University of Edinburgh); John Mack (University of East Anglia); Ruth B. Phillips (Carleton University); Danielle Sellers (Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive).

During 2013-14 Desmond Thomas and Inbal Livne conducted small collection reviews at regimental museums in Scotland and in regimental collections held by the National Army Museum to consider the range of non-European material in regimental, corps and service museums, and the best methodology for assessing them.

People sitting around a table at a research workshop at the National Army Museum.

Research workshop at the National Army Museum, London.

A multi-authored edited collection was planned, and papers have been presented at international conferences in Brantford, Ontario and Krakow, Poland. Results were shared with regimental, corps and service museums in workshops in London, Perth and Bury. A blog post on this project can be found on the Museum Ethnographers Group Blog.

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