Connected Communities: Diaspora and transnationality

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

This research review critically explores the idea of 'connected communities' in relation to diaspora and transnationality across the humanities and social sciences. It develops the idea of 'connectivity' within and across communities that are transnational and diasporic, focusing on four key areas: community histories; home, community and migration; cities, communities and connections; and faith communities and religious diasporas. As an integral part of the research review (see Bonnerjee et al., 2011, for the full report), four one-day workshops on these themes were held in partnership with The Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) and The Geffrye Museum of the Home. These workshops (two at the RGS-IBG, one at The Geffrye and one at The City Centre, QMUL) brought together more than 70 participants from across the academic, arts/cultural and community sectors and involved a range of presentations, workshop activities and discussions about future collaborative research priorities. The full report reviews key academic debates on community, diaspora and transnationality; highlights key projects across the academic, arts/cultural and community sectors in a series of boxes; includes workshop summaries and evaluations; and identifies key areas for future collaborative research.

Publications

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Description This research review critically explores the idea of 'connected communities' in relation to diaspora and transnationality across the humanities and social sciences. It develops the idea of 'connectivity' within and across communities that are transnational and diasporic, focusing on four key areas: community histories; home, community and migration; cities, communities and connections; and faith communities and religious diasporas. As an integral part of the research review, four one-day workshops on these themes were held in partnership with The Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) and The Geffrye Museum of the Home. These workshops (two at the RGS-IBG, one at The Geffrye
and one at The City Centre, QMUL) brought together more than 70 participants from across the academic, arts/cultural and community sectors and involved a range of presentations, workshop activities and discussions about future collaborative
research priorities. The report reviews key academic debates on community, diaspora and transnationality; highlights key projects across the academic, arts/cultural and community sectors in a series of boxes; includes workshop summaries and evaluations; and identifies key areas for future collaborative
research.
Exploitation Route A number of key areas for future research emerged through the research review and workshop discussions. In particular:
• To develop collaborative research across the academic, arts/cultural and community sectors, and the recognition that those working in each sector bring a range of skills and experience particularly in terms of methodological
innovation, community engagement and dissemination strategies.
• To foster dialogue and knowledge exchange about innovative methodologies developed across each sector, particularly in terms of working with objects and displays in museums (eg RGS-IBG collections, and the period rooms and
collections of The Geffrye Museum of the Home), performative and other artistic practices (eg the intergenerational work of Magic Me and the performance work involved in Ali Campbell's Living Map project), and a wide range of participatory and pedagogic techniques (eg interfaith workshops organized by Three Faiths Forum).
• To develop research on different spaces and scales of connection for transnational and diasporic communities, in particular building on projects that have focused on particular places (eg The World in the East End, V&A Museum of Childhood, The Swadhinata Trust's project on Bengalis in the
East End, and the work of Eastside Community Heritage) and on connections over transnational and diasporic scales (eg Crossing Continents: Connecting Communities, RGS-IBG; Stories of the World: Home, Geffrye; Stories of the
World: Journeys, London Transport Museum).
• To build on the links established between workshop participants to develop collaborative community engagement projects about diasporic and transnational connections across the academic, arts/cultural and community sectors.
• To develop new collaborative research grant applications under the Connected Communities programme to examine:
1) Mapping connections across time and space: exploring community histories across generations among migrant groups in London;
2) Connecting faith across space in the city: the role of arts/cultural events in promoting inter-faith dialogue;
3) Home, migration and community: home as a site of inclusion and exclusion for migrant communities and the connections between home, work and the wider city
• To build on the partnership between QMUL, the RGS-IBG and The Geffrye Museum of the Home via the QMUL-led AHRC knowledge exchange hub, Creativeworks London, in which both other organisations are named partners.
Sectors Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/61819.pdf
 
Description The research findings have been used to underpin future collaborative research applications with both partner organizations: (i) a successful application for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the RGS-IBG on 'Family history, place and diaspora' (Chandan Mahal, part-time student from 2014). (ii) a pending application for an AHRC grant to study 'Home, city and migration: urban dwelling and mobility in East London' with Alison Blunt as PI. The Geffrye Museum is project partner on this application and the research would be based at the Centre for Studies of Home.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 09/2020
 
Description Centre for Studies of Home (QMUL and The Geffrye Museum of the Home) 
Organisation Collections, Learning and Engagement
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Centre for Studies of Home is a formal partnership between Queen Mary University of London and The Geffrye Museum of the Home. Founded in 2011, CSH is an international hub of research, knowledge transfer and public engagement activities on the home, past and present. It brings together colleagues from QMUL (particularly in Geography, History and English and Drama) and the Geffrye to work on a range of collaborative research projects and regular activities. I am founding co-director of CSH, and main supervisor for eight AHRC CDA studentships (four on 'Home-work: connections and transitions in London from the seventeenth century to the present'; four on 'Home and religion: space, practice and community in London from the seventeenth century to the present'). I have recently submitted an application for an AHRC grant for a project to be based at CSH (with the Geffrye as project partner) on 'Home, city and migration: urban mobility and dwelling in East London,' which directly results from the Connected Communities project on 'Diaspora and Transnationality.'
Collaborator Contribution CSH is co-directed by Eleanor John, Head of Collections, Learning and Engagement at the Geffrye Museum. A team of colleagues from the Geffrye is involved in the collaborative supervision of eight AHRC CDA studentships and other collaborative research projects (including those funded by AHRC, The Leverhulme Trust and ESRC). Our regular activities (annual postgraduate study days, research-in-progress days, conferences and lectures, and monthly seminar series on 'Studies of Home' at the Institute of Historical Research) and wide range of outputs (including publications, four exhibitions at the Geffrye, outreach work and learning resources) are planned and delivered in collaboration between QMUL and the Geffrye. Many events are held at the Geffrye.
Impact Since its launch in 2011, the centre has secured over £1.09M in external research income, including eight AHRC CDA studentships on 'Home-work: connections and transitions in London from the seventeenth century to the present' (2012-15 x 4) and on 'Home and religion: space, practice and community in London from the seventeenth century to the present' (2015-18 x 4); 'Living with the past at home' (AHRC); 'Home and inhabitation: a biography of the Aylesbury Estate' (Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship); 'Connected communities: diaspora and transnationality' (AHRC Connected Communities); 'Documenting Homes' (Arts Council); 'Making the invisible visible: enabling audiences to 'see' archive collections' (AHRC Creativeworks); and artists-in-residence to work on 'Home futures: an exploration through photography and sculpture' (AHRC Creativeworks entrepreneur-in-residence scheme) and 'Globe' (The Leverhulme Trust). Since 2011, the centre has had 11 funded collaborative PhD students (AHRC, ESRC, QMUL) and four postdoctoral research fellows (AHRC, Arts Council, Leverhulme Trust, QMUL). Its regular activities include a monthly seminar series at the Institute of Historical Research; annual conferences, research-in-progress days, postgraduate study days and lectures; and a reading group on home led by PGRs and ECRs. Collaborative outputs include exhibitions and displays (including 'Who once lived in my house?' 2013-14, and planned exhibitions on domestic service, the Aylesbury Estate and teenage bedrooms); publications (including special issues of Home Cultures on 'Domestic practice in the past' and 'For home unmaking' and a guide to collaborative work on exhibitions); the development of learning resources (including on 'the servant problem' for school sessions); the reinterpretation of the permanent galleries (particularly about the relationships between home and work); outreach work (including with Vietnamese residents in Hackney); and enhancements to the collections in the form of historical material and the creation of new archives consisting of interviews and photographs generated by the contemporary research projects. The centre's online research register has 184 entries, including 47 from overseas (including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and the USA). The centre's work is multi-disciplinary, spanning geography, history, literary studies, politics, the visual arts and art history, and museum studies.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) 
Organisation Royal Geographical Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The research team on this project worked closely with colleagues in the Research and Higher Education Department and the Collections at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to plan and deliver two one-day workshops focusing on diaspora and transnationality in relation to community histories and religion.
Collaborator Contribution Colleagues at the RGS-IBG played a central role in planning and delivering the two one-day workshops. Both days involved participants (from the academic, arts, heritage and community sectors) working with objects, images and texts from the collections of the RGS-IBG.
Impact One direct outcome from this project has to further develop the collaborative work between two members of the research team (myself (PI) and Cathy Mcilwaine (CI)) and the RGS-IBG via a successful application for an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award on 'Family history, place and diaspora.' Chandan Mahal was appointed to this studentship in 2014 (part-time) and is working with Punjabis in Britain to study family history in relation to their own collections and material in the collections of the RGS-IBG. This project was inspired by the one-day workshop on community history as part of the 'Connected communities: diaspora and transnationality' project.
Start Year 2011
 
Description One-day workshop on 'Cities, communities and connections' at Queen Mary University of London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop focused on the theme of
cities, communities and connections. Moving beyond the domestic sphere, this
workshop explored public and urban spaces of encounter, connection and exchange,
focusing on workplaces, sites of consumption and leisure spaces. One key theme
was to explore different maps of the city as a way of thinking about proximity and
distance, connection and disconnection, both within and between different
communities. The workshop involved presentations and three art and performance activities for participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/61819.pdf
 
Description One-day workshop on 'Community histories: connections and collaborations' at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop explored resources, methods and strategies for collecting,
documenting and disseminating community histories. It brought together academics,
members of community organizations and those working in the arts and cultural
sector who have been involved in community history work and was held in
partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British
Geographers) (RGS/IBG).

The day included short presentations, workshop activities (working with objects, text
and images from the RGS-IBG collections) and discussion. The workshop also
allowed the opportunity to view the exhibition 'Rediscovering African Geographies,'
which included maps and a range of other materials from the RGS-IBG Collections
related to West and Central Africa from the perspectives of London-based African
community members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/61819.pdf
 
Description One-day workshop on 'Faith communities and religious diasporas' at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the last of the four workshops and was held at the Royal Geographical
Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). It sought to bring together an
interest in public and private connections within and between communities, alongside
the importance of connections both 'here' and 'there'. Focusing on the discussion of
religious practices, buildings and communities, the workshop explored the ways in
which faith can open up points of connection across communities, places and
generations. Building on the Women's Design Service 'Faith in Action' project, the
workshop also focused on the importance of gender in shaping faith communities
and religious diasporas as well as generation, race and ethnicity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/61819.pdf
 
Description One-day workshop on 'Home, migration and community' at The Geffrye Museum of the Home 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop explored ideas of home, migration and community. The home has
become a central focus of research on diaspora and transnationality, spanning
home-making practices, domestic architecture, material culture and wider senses of
belonging and dwelling in the world. This workshop brought together academics,
members of community organizations and those working in the arts and cultural
sector who are interested in the connections between home, migration and
community. The day was held in partnership with The Geffrye Museum of the Home
and the Centre for Studies of Home (the latter, a partnership between Queen Mary
and the Geffrye) which provided resources for exploring the issues through
a range of media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/research/61819.pdf