THE OTHER WITHIN : An anthropology of Englishness

Main project information page

Fourth six-monthly progress report - April 2008

Museum Ethnographers Group AGM and Conference: Ethnography at Home 10-11 April 2008
Alison Petch was the convenor for the 2008 annual conference. To reflect the interesting research that has taken place during the Other Within project, and the lead role that its two researchers take in MEG, the conference theme was Ethnography at Home. The conference was extremely successful and greatly enjoyed by its participants, several papers will be published in the Journal of Museum Ethnography, no. 22. Quite a few members of the larger Other Within project team gave papers at the conference:

Ollie Douglas: Highland Games and Material Diversions: The Late Victorian Ethnography of Robert Craig Maclagan; Chris Gosden: An introduction to 'The Other Within: An anthropology of Englishness' project; Chris Wingfield: Is the heart at home? Defining the self and collecting the other at the centre of Empire; Elizabeth Edwards: Visualising English Histories.

Around 85 people from all over the world (but mostly from Europe and the UK) attended the conference, most were museum ethnographers working in museums and university museums and academics with an interest in museum ethnography. More information about MEG.

Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading
A meeting was held with colleagues from MERL on 10 December 2007 when a number of papers were read by Roy Brigden, Peter Rivière, Chris Wingfield and Alison Petch. The collaboration between the research project and MERL has proved very fruitful for both sides.


Alison Petch At the beginning of this period she worked for several months cataloguing and checking the English photographic collections at the Museum. A great deal of material, particularly relating to photographs of the Museum itself, had not previously been catalogued or available via the Museum's photographic collections database. Once this material was on-line, access to this material by outside researchers would be greatly enhanced. She had also continued working on the individuals who had contributed to the English collections. She prepared some papers for publication, or for presentation to seminars within the Museum. She managed the preparation of object biographies by colleagues but also written several biographies and theme herself. During the remainder of the project she would concentrate on the Oxfordshire collections and Ellen Ettlinger's folklore related material (including photographs) donated to the Museum. She was hoping to incorporate some work on the social history collections of Oxfordshire County Museums Service into her work on the PRM's Oxfordshire collections. Alison had been compiling a collection of English object photographs for use on the website, she was very grateful to Malcolm Osman and Suzy Prior (the Museum's photographers) for working so hard to produce new images of objects and to David for managing the images for the website so efficiently.

Alison and Chris had both visited the Ashmolean Museum to ascertain what similarities there were between their English antiquities collections and the PRM. During this period they also worked very intensively on the location and time-period related information on each of the English artefacts.

Chris Wingfield has continued his archival and library research as well as giving several papers, including one to the MEG conference. Earlier in the period he had spent some time preparing statistics on collection events connected with the English collections (these will be available via the website). This extended the work begun by Katy Barrett in the summer of 2007. Chris attended several meetings of the Marie Curie funded NaMu workshops, where he presented papers on various aspects of his research work. During December he carried out a week's research in Somerset looking in detail at the Tylor collections from that area as well as other Somerset related material and the archives of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, Somerset County Archive and Somerset Studies Centre, the Wellington Literary Institute and Taunton Museum. Ollie Douglas had accompanied him on this research visit. Chris had written several object biographies. He hopes to work on the stone tool collections among other areas during the remainder of the project as well as beginning writing the monograph of the project with Chris Gosden.

David Harris has continued to work on the website design. In December 2007 the website went live and can be found at. It will continue to be updated during the life of the project and readers are asked to keep checking the website to see the most recent changes. He is still spending much time trying to ensure that the innovative mapping elements of the site work as smoothly as possible. Some time was devoted during this period to developmental work with the new server which will host the website.

Peter Rivière has completed phase one of his research on the Fellows of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1900, a database will shortly be available on the England website. He continued to be interested in the proposals for a Museum of English Life and Traditions (MELT) after the second World War.

Nicolette Makovichy and Mike Heaney both worked on their object biographies for the website on lace-making and morris related artefacts respectively.

Katy Barrett worked on scanning and preparing the Balfour field diaries for web publication

Object biographies
Since the last meeting a large number of object biographies have been put onto the website. The project team is extremely grateful to all their colleagues for writing these biographies which should prove a very attractive part of the website.

During the last six months the project team has realised that some of the material produced for the website covers particular themes in detail and a separate part of the website is currently under construction. In the end this section will include object biographies for groups of artefacts (such as death and calendar related items), the Oxfordshire collections amongst others.

Alison Petch
17 April 2008