THE OTHER WITHIN : An anthropology of Englishness

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Second six-monthly progress report - April 2007

Photograph taken by Suzy Prior
This has been a busy six months with many exciting initiatives taken as well as the usual research hard work. We are currently developing a close relationship with staff from the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, who have very similar research interests to our own. We hope to have more to report in the next progress report about this. An application has been made to fund research workshops between the two museums and the Departments of Archaeology at Oxford and Reading Universities, we will know if we are successful in May 2007.


Alison Petch has finished working on the artefact database for the present, having cleaned all the data. She had added geographical markers with Chris Wingfield for David Harris (the web pages designer) to work on when he returns from sabbatical leave. She then recompiled the statistics for the English artefacts which will be made available on this site as soon as possible after June 2007. During the last six months she has been mostly investigating the lives and work of all the individuals who contributed artefacts to the English collections (around 1380 individuals in total). One resource she has found particularly useful for obtaining biographical data from is which, despite its name, provides much information about buildings and residents in central Oxford as well as Headington. During this work she has added some 300 biographies to the Pitt Rivers Museum's database. After completing the database and preparing data from it for the website she hopes to finish a paper on the PRM and its English collections and industrialization and start working on some object biographies for artefacts related to death.

Hélène La Rue has been working on the next temporary exhibition, which will open in May 2007, which has a theme of community music making but which will concentrate on England and Java. It is hoped Hélène will contribute many object biographies to this site as a result of her research work for this project. In addition many photographs taken by one of the Museum's photographers, Suzy Prior, will be on display in the Museum including her photographs of the Eynsham and Headington Quarry Morris. Hélène has also been reintroducing herself to the local lace-making community, and has resumed making lace, a very practical outcome of this research project.

Chris Wingfield has been working in detail on the Folklore Society and its publications particularly in the beginning period of its existence in the late nineteenth century, and the early development of anthropology and folklore in the UK in relation to our English collections. Databases and statistics compiled whilst working on the folklore material will be made available via this website at a later date. He also worked with Chris Gosden to prepare the funding bids for research workshops/ networks to the AHRC. Chris hopes to start work on some object biographies over the coming months.

Peter Riviere has been completing the history of anthropology at Oxford which will be published by Berghahn very soon but he had also been looking at the early history of anthropology at Oxford in relation to our collections, and particularly at the early history of the (Royal) Anthropological Institute and the crossover between that and the Folklore Society. Peter hopes to work on a social anthropology of scholarly societies in this field in the late nineteenth century over the coming months. He was also very interested in Percy Manning.

All members of the team enjoyed a particularly interesting visit to the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading in early January 2007, they wish to thank the Museum (especially Roy Brigden and Kate Arnold-Foster) for their kind hospitality and for showing them their collections. Advantage was taken of this visit to meeting with Richard Bradley and Roberta Gilchrist of the Department of Archaeology at Reading University. In January 2007 the team also met with David Hopkin of Oxford University to discuss mutual research interests.

Oxford Museums and Collections Histories Group

Another successful day for this group was held on 19 December 2007 organized by members of the team, particularly Alison Petch. The general theme this time had been 'English collections' and several members of the team gave papers at the meeting:

Hélène La Rue, speaking as Curator of the Bate Collection, Faculty of Music and of the Musical Collections in the Pitt Rivers Museum: 'Bate Beginnings'
Chris Wingfield: 'The establishment of the Folk-lore Society'
Alison Petch: 'An overview of the English collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum'
Chris Gosden welcomed the group to the Museum and chaired the discussion at the end.