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Heritage of the Air: How aviation transformed Australia is offering two funded PhD projects.

Heritage of the Air is a three year (2018-2020) ARC Linkage project that investigates how civil aviation has transformed Australian society over the last 100 years. The project is based at the University of Canberra and our research partners include Airservices Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the Queensland Museum, the SFO Museum in San Francisco, the Airways Museum in Essendon and the Civil Aviation Historical Society. The Lead Chief Investigator is Associate Professor Tracy Ireland and Associate Professor Tim Sherratt is leading the digital humanities aspects of the project.

We are seeking 2 exceptional PhD scholars to work as fully integrated members of our multidisciplinary research team, responding to its innovative methods and frameworks. The scholarships are offered at the University of Canberra for the duration of the project. As well as the PhD stipend, scholars will have access to a generous research fund to support their research and field work. The research could be undertaken through traditional research or creative practice and exegesis. Indigenous scholars are particularly encouraged to apply.

Research Approach

In the lead up to Australia’s centenary of civil aviation, our focus is on people rather than planes and we seek to tell the broader story of diverse Australian communities and aviation, including Indigenous people and communities. The project will engage the public’s enduring fascination with aviation through innovative analyses and interpretation of aviation heritage archives and collections to produce exciting exhibitions, accessible digital collections and heritage resources, as well as scholarly and popular publications.

The project aims to reveal little known stories and actors in aviation narratives. Its research design scaffolds the development of genuinely multi and interdisciplinary approaches to aviation heritage in its many forms, using three intersecting, methodological ‘frames’ as components of a democratised heritage research approach: Frame 1: Visual and material histories: how has aviation heritage and memory has been produced through visual media and material culture in the past, and how might these heritage materials contribute to new interpretations in the future? Frame 2. Digital humanities: Heritage of the Air will not merely use digital tools and create digital resources, but will ask how digital approaches can open collections to new forms of cultural and historical analysis and provide a means to build new, more sustainable and effective models for heritage management and community engagement. Frame 3: Community ethnographies and oral histories: A range of community-based, ethnographic and oral history approaches will explore how memory and values are produced using aviation heritage places, collections and narratives.

One PhD researcher will focus on Indigenous communities and aviation. This project could be broadly interpreted to include, for instance, analysis of oral histories, art works (including rock art, songs, stories, dances etc) and other cultural forms, which reveal Indigenous histories and cultural responses to aviation.

The second PhD researcher will be focused on the critical application and evaluation of digital humanities approaches to specific research questions relating to aviation heritage. Topics might include how digital platforms and technologies can provide a means to build new, more sustainable and effective models for heritage management and community engagement.

Indigenous scholars are particularly encouraged to apply.

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Applications will close April 30 2018.

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