Call for Application: Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD Studentship North American Indigenous Languages in the British Library’s Post-1850s Collections

The British Library and the University of Hull are pleased to invite applications for a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD Studentship, starting from 1 October 2019.

This doctoral award is funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council under its Collaborative Doctoral Programme. The research will be jointly supervised by Professor Joy Porter at the University of Hull, and Dr Fran Fuentes, Curator for North American Printed Collections at the British Library. You will receive further support at the British Library from Nora McGregor, Digital Curator of the Digital Scholarship department, and from a secondary team at the forefront of indigenous language studies that includes, Professor Dale Turner (Anishinaabe), Department of Native Studies, Dartmouth College; Mishiikenh (Vernon Altiman, Anishinaabe), Lecturer, Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Queen’s University, Ontario; Professor Marianne Mithun, President of the Association of American Linguistics, University of California, Santa Barbara.

This role poses an exciting opportunity to explore the practical and ethical issues in employing and promoting digital research methods, tools and technologies to the study of the indigenous record; and developing recommendations as to a sustainable future collections practice which balances the interests of indigenous communities, the British Library, and researchers. You will be encouraged in year one to use Student Development Funding and institutional funding to complete one or more short but intensive indigenous language competence courses run by secondary co-supervisor Mishiikenh in Ontario. You will use this acquired knowledge of Anishinaabe and work as closely as possible with indigenous communities so as to generate the first survey, identification and tagging of indigenous language holdings in a series of BL collections and to identify and improve catalogue records in relation to indigenous languages. You will begin by engaging specifically with BL Boarding School publications and the variety of material therein (primers, reference texts and indigenous creative output), before going on to explore dictionaries and religious texts in translation, as well as 20th century Native newspapers, activist campaign materials and literature by indigenous authors and poets. To help comprehend this work in indigenous context, you will be encouraged to explore methodologies linked to the indigenizing of both digital humanities research and collection practice, including ‚up-streaming‘, analysis of asymmetries of power within post or neo-colonial contexts and linguistic code switching as defined by Penelope Gardner-Chloros and others. You will also be encouraged to explore ways the British Library could bring the rich diversity of indigenous perspectives, notably those of indigenous elders, into dialogue with access portals and collections containing indigenous languages. A starting solution for this may be the use of ‘critical making’ methodologies and the use of collaborative metadata creation, prototype digital collections and portals whereby users have the chance to interact with language materials.

Application deadline: April 15, 2019.

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