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Annotated almanacs in the Huntington Library

Cacti Gardens at the Huntingdon. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Cacti Gardens at the Huntingdon. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

In this latest International Placement Scheme (IPS) Blog, Catherine Evans, an IPS Fellow, talks “Annonated Almanacs”.

I didn’t start a PhD to see the world. However, I must have had Dr. Seuss floating around my head when I heard about the AHRC International Placement Scheme: “the more you read the more you will know, the more that you learn the more places you’ll go”. A call to always scour departmental emails perhaps? Whatever it is, I’m glad that Seuss spurred me to apply for the IPS scheme. I was lucky enough to be awarded a four-month fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The Huntington is one of the largest research libraries in North America, specialising particularly in the English Renaissance. With collections of over 420,000 rare books, and 7 million manuscripts, I assumed that this would be a daunting and challenging place to work. However, the last four months I have spent working at the Huntington have shown me that the most imposing of institutions can also be extremely welcoming.

I began my PhD around a year ago, moving to the University of Sheffield to study with Emma Rhatigan and Marcus Nevitt. My thesis examines the sensory experience of time in early religious literature from 1530-1660. Critics have often asserted that the early modern period was characterised by a drastic change in the perception of time, moving from a cyclical understanding of the calendar marked by religious festivals to a linear, proto-capitalist progression. My project seeks to nuance this construction, considering how early modern authors and divines engaged the senses in their approach to temporally inflected religious problems, such as predestination and the conditions of bodily resurrection.

Chinese gardens at the Huntington . Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Chinese gardens at the Huntington . Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Whilst at the Huntington, I have taken a break from looking at early modern psalm translations and sermons to undertake a focused survey of the library’s holdings of annotated almanacs. This was the first piece of focused archival research I have carried out, so I was somewhat apprehensive about how best to start. However, the curators at the library were incredibly helpful and giving of their time. They talked me through the various finding aids, and even ran searches using a staff only online catalogue to help me identify all the almanacs with annotations within the collection. I’d be expecting to find evidence within the almanacs of how people organised their time, assuming that this form would lend itself to creating a more ordered, linear view of the progression of time. However, in the process of my research I found that almanacs paradoxically offered a space in which to pleat the fabric of time, with annotators often writing against the books’ projected uses.

Page from T. Hill 1571 almanac, with zodiacal man. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Page from T. Hill 1571 almanac, with zodiacal man. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Although the collections were extremely engrossing, the excitement of LA and beauty of California were too great to resist, and I’m happy that I made the most of my time in the area to explore further. Weekend trips to San Diego, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas with other fellows were a highlight, as well as visiting Yosemite and exploring the beaches of Orange County. Although LA can be a tricky city to navigate, being here for such an extended period of time meant that it was easy to get to know different neighbourhoods. Although the Huntington is based in San Marino, the majority of fellows live in Alhambra or Pasadena, only a few miles away from Echo Park (the Peckham of LA, according to a man met in an arcade game bar) and Highland Park, home to Donut Friend, which became a weekly fixture! LA is also overflowing with museums and galleries, ranging from monumental LACMA to the tiny yet moving Museum of Broken Relationships.

The IPS fellows were warmly welcomed into the research community at the library, with Steve Hindle and Catherine Wehrey-Miller both working hard to include us in events and help us make the most of our trips. Whilst I was in residence, I was able to attend two fantastic, wide-ranging conferences: Ben Jonson 1616-2016, and Early Modern Literary Geographies. There was also a busy programme of Brown Bag talks, monthly seminars by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, and public lectures. These were a great opportunity to expand my academic horizons. It’s easy to become very insular whilst working on a thesis, but meeting other academics and grad student working on topics from LA bibliographic history to the pre-history of photography, and discussing their work made me more aware of the connections that can exist between the most unlikely sounding subjects.

8 of the AHRC fellows with Steve Hindle, Director of Research at the Huntington . Courtesy of Martha Benedict

8 of the AHRC fellows with Steve Hindle, Director of Research at the Huntington . Courtesy of Martha Benedict

Although the archival work I did at the Huntington was fascinating, and will form a cornerstone of my thesis, making personal connections and becoming a part of such a vibrant and stimulating community of scholars was also extremely beneficial. Un-official readers’ happy hour gave an opportunity to sample all the bars of Pasadena and Tuesday tea breaks created an occasion to chat shop over cookies and coffee. Other fellows and visitors to the library were extremely generous with their time, making suggestions of different avenues to explore, books to read, and people to contact. Presenting my work at one of the lunch time talks was a daunting but worthwhile experience, as I was able get feedback from scholars with a wealth of knowledge about early modern religious practice.

Leaving the UK shortly after the referendum results, and being in the US for the Presidential election added a bittersweet edge to the placement. I am extremely privileged to be able to travel so freely with my work: the combination of a British passport, an inoffensive research project, and an eminent host organisation easing my way. It feels as though these opportunities, to connect with people from all over the world and help form new, if transient, communities will be increasingly rare both within academia and in all walks of life. I had some extremely heartening discussions, with academics from all over the world, who shared how their own careers and lives have been shaped by taking part in international fellowships. I can only hope that I will be able to heed their advice, and always remember the importance of reaching out to visitors and creating supportive communities wherever I go in my future career.

For me, this fellowship will surely rank as one of the highlights of my doctoral experience. Living in a beautiful pool house on a road where wild peacocks roam, cycling in the sun each morning to work in a wood-panelled library surrounded by 120 acres of immaculately manicured gardens, discounted coffee and tacos on site… All this made a welcome change from the normal PhD life of running between library and seminars in the rain, clutching a carrier bag full of books to your chest to ward off evil spirits. Most importantly, I was able to extend my academic horizons and produce some new research using little studied material. Oh, and get a fabulous tan.

 

Lake Tioga. Yosemite. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Lake Tioga. Yosemite. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

This year’s round of the International Placement Scheme (IPS) is now open for applications. Please see the AHRC website for more information (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/funding/opportunities/current/international-placement-scheme-2017/)

The IPS scheme is an annual programme providing Research Fellowships to AHRC/ESRC-funded doctoral students, early career researchers and doctoral-level research assistants.  The IPS scheme offers dedicated access to the internationally renowned collections/ programmes/ expertise held at seven world-leading, international institutions:

Harry Ransom Center (HRC), The University of Texas at Austin, USA

The Huntington Library, California, USA

The Library of Congress (LoC), Washington DC, USA

National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU), Japan

Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA), Shanghai, China

Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA), Connecticut, USA


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My Kluge Odyssey

The following is a guest post by Joe Ryan-Hume, 2014 Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow at The John W. Kluge Center. Reproduced with gracious thanks to Joe Ryan-Hume and Jason Steinhauer of the John Kluge Centre.  This is the original text, so some times and dates may be dated, but Joe has also added some additional comments, and advice for anyone applying, at the bottom of this Blog. 

In 2014 I had the pleasure of completing an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded fellowship at The John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress (LOC). A year has passed since then, but this summer I found myself back once again at the Center, drawn like a moth to a flame, walking by the same desk I occupied all those months ago. In the interim, I was able to travel widely, from a fellowship at the University of Hong Kong to one at the British Library. I had plenty of time to reflect on my experience at the Kluge Center. I hope to use this space to illuminate why I believe the work that the Kluge Center does is incredibly important, and for young scholars, deeply formative.

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

I am a current third-year Ph.D. student based in the Department of History at the University of Glasgow. My thesis questions the notion of conservative ascendancy and the so-called ‘Reagan revolution’ in 1980s America by reinterpreting the impact of liberalism at the time. In order to effectively survey liberalism during this tumultuous decade, it was essential that I traveled to the U.S. to examine primary sources. And what better place to do so than at the Library of Congress, looming in the shadow of Thomas Walter’s famous Capitol dome and surrounded by a wealth of material. Fortunately, the Research Council that funds my Ph.D. in the United Kingdom, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), offers fellowships at the Kluge Center as part of its International Placement Scheme. From March to September of 2014, I was lucky enough to hold one.

My time at the Kluge Center was beyond compare. I was able to consult a range sources, from the papers of retired Senators (particularly the Daniel P. Moynihan Papers) to the organizational papers of key liberal interest groups at the time (the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights [LCCR] papers are fantastic), which have proved essential to the range and depth of my argument. Not only that, but the arrangement of the Center provides the

Brown Bag Lunch

Brown Bag Lunch

most conducive environment to network with scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and foster cross-collaboration projects. The Kluge Center actively encourages such opportunities, and during my time there I embraced as many as possible. From brownbag lunches to organized events, the Center provides a stimulating and thought-provoking environment to work within. Working with people from a range of disciplines, from archaeology to psychology, allowed me to cast a far wider net in my research than I thought possible and tackle some of its problems in a completely different way. Since leaving the Center, I have been able to tap this resource in a number of ways: from having people in different disciplines critique my work to attending a range of events I never would have before. On returning to Glasgow University, I also helped convince department heads that an ‘Americanist’ group-made up of postgraduates from a range of disciplines would be an effective way of fostering cross-collaboration within the institution. From Scottish ‘brown bag’ lunches to famous happy hour gatherings, this group has proved a success. Indeed, by working together, the Glasgow ‘Americanist’ group has recently organized a conference,”Collaboration in America and Collaborative Work in American Studies”, to take place at the University of Glasgow in December 2015.

 

The author Joe Ryan-Hume (far left) participates in a panel at the Spring History Symposium at The University of Hong Kong, May 7, 2015. Photo provided by the author.

The author Joe Ryan-Hume (far left) participates in a panel at the Spring History Symposium at The University of Hong Kong, May 7, 2015. Photo provided by the author.

My particular journey over the past year is a testament to the Kluge Center. Having never really embraced networking in my first year of postgraduate study, on returning from the Center I embraced as many networking opportunities as I could. One particularly sticks out. Glasgow University recently established links with the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and set up a fund to send postgraduate and early career researchers back and forth. Seeing this as a great opportunity to showcase my work and network with others outside of my institution–almost as far away as one could get from it, in fact–I applied. As the first person to win the award, I gleefully headed off to Hong Kong as somewhat of a pioneer. My time at HKU proved both professionally and personally invaluable. Not only did I establish research links with various scholars at HKU’s history department, but I participated in two organized conferences as well as a workshop catered to HKU postgraduate students. Indeed, I helped co-organize one of the conferences on “Women, Gender, and Efforts for Equality: Comparative Asian-Western Perspectives” given my recent work on women in the Reagan Era, while the other was a postgraduate symposium that attracted scholars from all over the world. In fact, I actually met a fellow from the 2015 Kluge cohort, Pete Millwood, at the symposium who was yet to begin his tenure at the Library of Congress. Knowing that I was planning on returning, we swapped contact details. It is true what they say; it is a small world after all!

Alongside embracing opportunities to network, I also started to work with a number of former Kluge scholars upon return to the U.K. Specifically, I co-organized a panel with AHRC Fellow Will Riddington at a major international conference in June 2015. Meeting up at the University of East Anglia for the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) annual conference, we convened a panel titled “Body Politics in the 1980s: Grassroots Organising on the Left and the Right in the Reagan Era.” Given its success, we have since decided to ‘take our show on the road,’ and have discussed co-authoring an article together based on it. I hope to collaborate with Will on a number of other projects going forward, from potentially arranging our own conference to collating a co-edited book. Likewise, I met another former fellow, Matthew Wright, at an interview for a seconded government internship. We were able to help one another out on that day because of our Kluge connection. Finally, I made a number of lasting friendships and continue to keep in contact–and often visit–former Kluge fellows all over the world.

Jefferson Memorial, Washington

Jefferson Memorial, Washington

This summer I returned to the Library of Congress when my thesis required further excavation of their available manuscript sources. From an examination of my initial research completed in 2014, it became clear that a number of figures whose papers are housed at the Library had played crucial roles in protecting liberalism’s brightest jewel, Social Security, from conservative dissection in the 1980s. With a new case study titled “Social Security and the 1982 Midterms,” I sought to use the collections at the Library (particularly the Moynihan papers) to show how and why a strong liberal defense of Social Security in 1982, driven by Moynihan in the Senate and supplemented by the activism of liberal interest groups, dissuaded the Reagan administration from attempting major revisions and had a dramatic impact on the 1982 midterms. Returning to the Library allowed me to carry out all of the research required for this chapter over a four-week period.

By providing a unique opportunity to learn about other research methods and practices whilst also enabling me to expand my knowledge and understanding of my topic through serious academic discussion, the Kluge Center was/is an invaluable part of my academic narrative. Each time I’ve visited, I have returned to Glasgow both with more confidence about my project and more motivation to put pen to paper. Having never really left Scotland for more than a couple of weeks before my fellowship, moving to the U.S. seemed a daunting prospect in 2014. But in the Kluge Center, I found a home.

Writing on 25th October 2016 Joe kindly added:

“‘If the Kluge Center was the destination, then the AHRC was the vehicle. Without both the financial and organisational support of the AHRC, then such an experience would have been impossible. And without the opportunity to consult the raft of primary sources housed at the Library of Congress (LOC), then the range and depth of my Ph.D. would have suffered greatly. Indeed, my research findings at the LOC were fundamental to the development of my thesis as a whole, which, given the subject nature, could only be completed with access to specific manuscript collections and digitized databases – the LOC was the only institution to house comprehensive access to them both. The IPS Award effectively allowed me to carry out all of the research required for my thesis over a five-month period, while also providing a stimulating environment to share ideas and spark new friendships. I sub-rented a room on Capitol Hill, walked past Thomas Walter’s famous dome every morning, and immersed myself in the politics of Washington in the balmy summer of 2014. If you are considering applying, then what are you waiting for? It will be a transformative experience, both professionally and personally. And use the network of previous fellows for advice. I have been fortunate enough to help a number of students – both at the University of Glasgow and beyond – apply for the scheme since I’ve returned home. Starting the application early and being as specific as possible about the collections you intend to consult – and importantly, how they are indispensable to your critical analysis and how they will strengthen your thesis greatly as a result – will improve your application form. Good Luck.’

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill

 

This year’s round of the International Placement Scheme (IPS) is now open for applications. Please see the AHRC website for more information (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/funding/opportunities/current/international-placement-scheme-2017/)

The IPS scheme is an annual programme providing Research Fellowships to AHRC/ESRC-funded doctoral students, early career researchers and doctoral-level research assistants.  The IPS scheme offers dedicated access to the internationally renowned collections/ programmes/ expertise held at seven world-leading, international institutions:

Harry Ransom Center (HRC), The University of Texas at Austin, USA

The Huntington Library, California, USA

The Library of Congress (LoC), Washington DC, USA

National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU), Japan

Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA), Shanghai, China

Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA), Connecticut, USA


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Global Challenges Research Fund Town Meeting

map-221210_1280The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is holding a meeting at The Studio in Birmingham on 4th November 2016 about the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and to provide an opportunity to hear about the AHRC’s plans for supporting arts and humanities research as a part of the GCRF. There will be a specific focus on a new AHRC GCRF call for Area Focussed Large Grantsdue to be open in October 2016.

The meeting, which will start at 10.30am (registration from 10.00am) and finish around 3.30pm, will be an opportunity to:

  • hear some background on the GCRF and the AHRC Area Focussed Large Grants funding call
  • speak to Research Council staff about possible applications.

In addition, the event will give researchers the opportunity to network and explore possible research partnerships and collaborations to support potential future applications under the AHRC Area Focussed Large Grants funding call.

Who is the event for?

The event is open to academic researchers who are interested in applying to the funding call, and to potential partners from outside academia who might be interested in the opportunity to initiate possible collaborations that might lead to research bids.

The event is an opportunity to:

  • find out about the Global Challenges Research Fund and the AHRC Area Focussed Large Grants funding call
  • discuss with experts the challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary working and co-delivery with end-users
  • put questions about the GCRF and the AHRC Area Focussed Large Grants funding call direct to funders
  • network with potential collaborators from other discipline areas or as end-users of research.

How to Register

If you are interested in attending the event please contact communications@ahrc.ac.uk confirming your interest and providing a brief summary of no more than 300 words, outlining your academic expertise in the area and your interest in the AHRC Area Focussed Large Grants funding call.

The closing date for expressing your interest in attending the event is 12 noon on the 20th October.

Please Note: For those invited to attend the event this summary information will be shared among other participants to support the networking aspects of the event. Your application therefore needs to include a statement confirming that you are happy for this information to be shared with other participants if invited to attend the event.

Attendance at the event is expected to be at the applicants’ expense. However if this is a barrier to attendance for non-academic partners please contact the AHRC to discuss further.


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The Olympic Games as a Research Subject

Olympic Tennis, Centre Court, #rio2016 Credit: Andy Miah

Olympic Tennis, Centre Court, #rio2016 Credit: Andy Miah

Our latest Guest Blog is by Professor Andy Miah from University of Salford, Manchester.

Fencing - Credit - Andy Miah

Fencing – Credit – Andy Miah

Depending on when you start counting, Olympic research has been around now for either a century, or a good 40 years. Emerging out of a range of disciplines, Olympic researchers can now be found in schools of architecture, sport science, leisure and tourism, cultural studies, sociology, politics, journalism, economics, and many more.

There is even work in philosophy, which draws on the idea of Olympism, a foundational concept in the modern revival of the Olympic Games. Indeed, philosophers have dedicated considerable time to analyzing the ideas that operate around the Olympic Games, such as amateurism, fair play, and the nature of game playing.

The founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, conceived three pillars of the Olympic movement, notably sport, culture and education.

Athletes' welcome at Rio 2016 Olympic Village - Credit - Andy Miah

Athletes’ welcome at Rio 2016 Olympic Village – Credit – Andy Miah

The International Olympic Committee is organized through a number of commissions, of which education is one, and it runs a research funding programme for senior and PhD students, investing into all kinds of research, from analyses of the Olympic programme, to investigations into how to deal with the doping dilemma.

This may be seen as a golden age of Olympic research, as the recently appointed IOC President Thomas Bach seems more inclined to involve academics within its ecosystem, but even outside of this, Olympic research is thriving. It finds itself also in business schools, where event and festival management are big topics. The International Society of Olympic Historians even held a press conference in the Main Press Centre of the Games, and various academic events have happened during the Olympics. One of the more regular events is the International Sport Business Symposium, which took place on 16th August.

Of course, the Olympic Games is also a big news issue, generating headlines around corruption, scandal, exclusion, and general controversy. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a case in point, with allegations of corruption to IOC officials, bad behavior by athletes generating debate about western media bias, and wider discussions about the social impact of the Games on a nation that is already in considerable economic and political turmoil.

Rio De Janiero, the Olympic Rings alongside a favela. Credit - Andy Miah

Rio De Janiero, the Olympic Rings alongside a favela. Credit – Andy Miah

Even the Subway Trains have quirky Olympic Motifs. Credit: Andy Miah

Even the Subway Trains have quirky Olympic Motifs. Credit: Andy Miah

My own Games time experience is always a mixture of objectives. Rio is my 10th Olympic Games, which started in Sydney, and has extended through all Winter, Summer, and now Youth Olympic Games.  While at the Games, I continue my own empirical work into media change and innovation, while also interviewing for the media on various topics, and writing on areas of interest, related to my research.

 

Together, these experiences allow me to understand a wide range of what the Games entails, a perspective that only an accredited academic can really achieve. Nobody in the organizing committee has the space in their agenda to really develop such an overarching observer perspective, and this is why it is so important for arts and humanities academics to be at the Games. If you are outside of the Olympic bubble, it is hard to move around and get access to all the components of the Olympic Games, but there is also something lost by spending time just inside this circle. Researching the Olympic Games provides access to a remarkable range of complex social, political, cultural, and economic issues, which is what has always fascinated me about it.

Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony - Credit - Andy Miah

Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony – Credit – Andy Miah

In the public imagination, the games are centrally about the pinnacle of human physical achievement. Personal endeavour played out through world record breaking performances of the athletes whose stories are among the most compelling biographies that history has to offer. Yet, being an Olympic researcher also means falling in between the cracks of research assessment and evaluation, which is why it’s also wise to combine it with a broader interest in how the Games are situated in society. Indeed, this facet is what makes Olympic research so crucial.

Links:

https://theconversation.com/profiles/andy-miah-144693/articles

https://www.flickr.com/photos/andymiah/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyrA2QOXo_g

Nicola Adams wins Gold in Boxing #Rio2016 - Credit Andy Miah -

Nicola Adams wins Gold in Boxing #Rio2016 – Credit Andy Miah –


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Design and the Rio 2016 Olympics

Rio Landscape Credits: © Alex Ferro/Rio 2016

Rio Landscape
Credits: © Alex Ferro/Rio 2016

As we all prepare to be enthralled by the latest events at the Paralympic games, our latest Guest Blog by Frederico Duarte from Birkbeck College, London, talks about the challenges faced in “Design of the City & the Rio 2016 Olympics”. This Blog is part of a on-going series, where researchers and academics have kindly agreed to submit posts that relate their analysis to everything Olympics.

Frederico is a Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA) PhD student on a Grant led by Principal Investigator Dr Luciana Martins on the AHRC Funded project on ‘Our poor, beautiful and culturally rich country’ the contemporary challenge of Brazilian design’. Here he uses his studentship to best effect, and ultimately demonstrates implications for the future development of design theory and practice in Brazil.

“When in 2009 Rio de Janeiro won the bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games the news was met with great cheer. Seven years on, the optimistic landscape has changed. Brazil’s economy is in recession, its politics in turmoil. Olympic ideals aside, Brazilians have protested against lavish public spending on big events while investment in health, education and essential infrastructure is cut short.

However, the design of the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games is something Brazilians should be proud of. On my PhD research, which I am conducting under an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between the Victoria & Albert Museum and Birkbeck, University of London, I am investigating the challenge of Brazilian design. This means looking beyond grand projects to focus on often small design achievements that Brazilians and the rest of the world should pay attention to.

Rio 2016 Symbol                                   Rio Symbol – Credits: © Ismar Ingber/Rio2016

 

Rio 2016’s visual identity, which complements one of the world’s most recognised icons, the Olympic Rings, is a case in point. Developed by the local consultancy Tátil Design, known for its pioneering approach to sustainability, Rio 2016 symbol’s organic shapes aptly embrace the city’s unique natural landscape with a vivid use of colour. Its three-dimensional version is given to each medal-winning athlete instead of a flower bouquet.

      The Rio 2016 brand launch video was directed by Andrucha Waddington, one of the three authors of the August 5th Opening Ceremony © Rio 2016

The two Rio 2016 mascots were designed by Birdo (Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet) to playfully represent the flora and fauna of the country with the world’s richest biodiversity, highlighting Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic commitment to sustainability.

Caption: Introducing Vinicius and Tom, the Rio 2016 Mascots © Rio 2016

The renowned São Paulo-based industrial design office Chelles & Hayashi created the ingenious Olympic Torch which when lit opens up to reveal Brazil’s national colours – blue, yellow and green.

Twelve thousand Olympic torches  were produced and relayed throughout Brazil.

The Olympic Torch © Rio 2016

The Olympic Torch © Rio 2016

Over 5000 Rio 2016 medals were designed by Nelson Carneiro and produced at the Brazilian mint. Their design is innovative on a formal, sustainable and accessible level: all medals are thicker in the centre and thinner on the edges; the gold medals are 100% mercury-free and the silver and bronze medals are made with 30% recycled metal. The Paralympic medals contain metal spheres that ring differently according to their rank, allowing visually-impaired athletes to know they were given the right medal according to their place on the Olympic podium.

Making of the Olympic and Paralympic Medals © Rio 2016

 

The Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was conceived and coordinated by film directors Fernando Meirelles, Andrucha Waddington and Daniela Thomas, who is also a renowned set designer. The show, which costed a tenth of the London 2012 ceremony, emphasised the Olympic spirit of diversity and tolerance and Brazil’s inventiveness in the face of scarcity. Despite a few eyebrows raised over the portrayal of national stereotypes, the ceremony was also a true showcase of Brazilian modern design: from Santos Dumont’s 14-bis airplane to the landscaping of Roberto Burle Marx, the tile panels of Athos Bulcão to the curves of Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture – drawn on stage by supermodel Gisele Bündchen. And that is certainly a cause for celebration.

The closing ceremony on August 21st included a special homage to Carmen Miranda and Roberto Burle-Marx yet it was the poetic tribute to the millions of craftsmen and craftswomen, the potters and lacemakers of Brazil, that will stay as one of the most endearing memories of the Olympic celebration.

Bobbin lacemaker in a tribute to craft during the Rio 2016 Olympics closing ceremony © Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

Bobbin lacemaker in a tribute to craft during the Rio 2016 Olympics closing ceremony © Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

I’m now halfway through my three-month research trip in Brazil, where I am conducting interviews with design professionals, students and academics to better understand the complexity and specificity of Brazilian contemporary design. If you know of someone I should talk to, do get in touch.

 

 


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The Olympic Games varied layers of Cultural Programming

 As we all continue to be enthralled by the latest events at the Olympic games, our latest Guest Blog by Dr Beatriz Garcia from University of Liverpool, talks about the Olympic Games’ varied layers of cultural programming. “. This Blog is part of a on-going series, where researchers and academics have kindly agreed to submit posts that relate their analysis to the Olympics.

Dr Beatriz Garcia

Dr Beatriz Garcia. Picture credit Dr Beatriz Garcia

Dr Beatriz Garcia is in Rio throughout the 2016 Olympic Games, as she has done since 2000 across nine Olympic cities.

The focus for Beatriz is one of the Games shiftier components: the often confusing and hard to pin-down ‘official’ Olympic cultural programme or Cultural Olympiad.

Rio is the first summer Games host city that has decided to break with the tradition started by the Barcelona 1992 organisers in 1988, when they decided to launch their cultural programme just at the end of the Seoul Games and develop it over four years (an Olympiad) so as to explore different themes in the lead up to their Games. In Rio there has been no four-year Cultural Olympiad, and there was not a clear cultural and arts hand-over from London 2012. Instead, we find a collection of separate short programmes, mostly happening during Games time in 2016, and led by two main entities:

  • the Municipality of Rio, through the Secretary of Tourism, which have commissioned the Olympic Boulevard programme
  • the International Olympic Committee (IOC), through its Foundation for Culture and Olympic Heritage which, for the first time at an Olympic Games, is taking the lead on a series of high profile artistic initiatives.

The culture team at the Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee were also aspiring to present the programme ‘Celebra‘ to highlight cultural and arts expression across Rio. However, budget constraints and branding tensions have prevented the programme from reaching its full potential. Despite some early attempts at presenting an eclectic collection of mini-festivals and art ‘pop-ups’ (an increasingly popular concept worldwide, fuelled by social-media), during Games time, this programme is noticed by its absence. Instead, the main legacy of the Celebra team will be two Olympic staples, coordinated by the IOC and used mainly as a Games heritage referent for the future: the official ‘Olympic Film’ and a series of ‘Olympic Posters’.

Given the lack of an official Cultural Olympiad with a dedicated website and brochure, visitors and residents remain largely unaware of the points of connection between a range of cultural expressions inspired by the Olympic Games. However, interesting cultural interventions are shaping the Olympic city and merit a mention.

 

Olympic Art in Rio 2016: Highlights

Olympic Boulevard:

Olympic Boulevard - Credit Beatriz Garcia

Olympic Boulevard – Credit Beatriz Garcia

Following a tradition started in Atlanta in 1996 and presented most successfully in Sydney 2000 and London 2012, Rio is hosting a series of LiveSites to enable people without tickets to the sporting competitions to celebrate collectively. The site in Porto Maravilhas is the largest LiveSite in Olympic history and has acted as a catalyst to regenerate a previously derelict area in the city. The area is now host to the Museum of Tomorrow, designed by ‘starchitect’ Santiago Calatrava, and a series of large graffiti artworks, most notably, this piece by Brazilian artist Kobra, which has gone into the Guinness Book of Records as the largest piece of graffiti by a single artist.

  • Museum of Tomorrow - Credit - Dr Beatriz Garcia

    Museum of Tomorrow – Credit – Dr Beatriz Garcia

    Large Graffiti by Artist Kobra - Credit Beatriz Garcia

    Largest Graffitti by single artist Kobra – Credit – Beatriz Garcia

Artists in Residence programme

  • The IOC has funded the first Artist in Residence programme at an Olympic Games, featuring French graffiti artist JR as well as German writer Tilman Spengler and American vine artist Gerald Andal. The work of JR
    Picture Credit - Andy Miah

    By French Graffiti Artist JR -Picture Credit – Andy Miah

    has been particularly successful given its high visibility in key city locations and its capacity to engage the general public. Read the Olympic Artist in Residence by Beatriz Garcia.

National Hospitality Houses

  • This is one of the most popular offerings in the Olympic city for those who have no tickets to sport. These Houses do not consistentlyoffer cultural or artistic expressions but are viewed as a way for local residents to ‘travel the world’, while in their city and attract large queues.

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    National House – Credit – Beatriz Garcia

Other cultural activity taking place but with low visibility includes:

  • Olympic inspired programming throughout Rio cultural museums, galleries, theatres and concert halls. This work was originally framed under a new scheme, Passaporte Cultural, offering opportunities to follow city-wide art circuits. However, the scheme had to beinterrupted. Exhibitions such as Utopian Design, documenting a century of Olympic graphic design are, in place, for those keen and able to find the information.
  • Linkages with artists from the next summer host, Tokyo 2020, through the work of sculptor Mariko Mori and her ‘sixth Olympic ring’
  • Continuation of the artist-led Olympic Poster tradition, resulting in 13 posters by 13 Brazilian contemporary artists

Overall, despite the achievements, a series of important challenges remain for cultural programming in the Olympic city. The most important one is the lack of unified branding and denominations for Olympic related cultural programming, which makes much of this activity invisible to Olympic fans. The hashtag #olympicArt has been suggested as a means to tag activity but, so far, the take up is slow and of mixed relevance.

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National House – Credit – Beatriz Garcia

Rather than be exposed to unique, provocative and meaningful cultural interventions, a majority of Olympic fans and local residents will be exposed instead to generic entertainment and corporate promotions from the Olympic sponsors. These kinds of activities are highly visible in all key city spaces and in the areas surrounding the Olympic venues, such as Olympic Park. This is a lost opportunity at a time when people from all over the world come together and the host city – as well as Olympic Movement heritage stakeholders – have a chance at taking a global platform to tell their story. Dr Beatriz Garcia is observing how this varied (fragmented) cultural programme evolves and how its narrative progresses, both through official and unofficial (online, user-led) channels.

This work informs her long-term research on the cultural dimensions of the Olympic Games and the role art and artists can play in shaping Olympic narratives and broadening up Games-time voices from a local, national and international identity point of view. Follow up stories can be found at: www.culturalolympics.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Oly Design - Credit - Beatriz Garcia

Oly Design – Credit – Beatriz Garcia


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Funding Opportunities in Horizon 2020’s Societal Challenges for Indian Participation

Horizon 2020

 

This brief note highlights opportunities for cross-disciplinary research with Indian researchers, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), research institutions and universities under Horizon 2020 created by a recently agreed co-funding mechanism between the European Commission and the Government of India’s Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), by which DBT (subject to a positive evaluation) could fund Indian researchers collaborating in projects selected for funding under specific calls around biotechnology.

Within the calls agreed are some ‘flagged’ by the European Commission as challenges that require the inclusion of social science and humanities (SSH) research. The following lists the topics upcoming under the 2016/17 Work Programmes for Horizon 2020 which have been identified by DBT as priority areas for collaboration:

 

‘SSH-flagged’ topics available for Indian participation

Topic

Opening Date Closing Date
1st Stage 2nd Stage
BIOTEC-07-2017: New plant breeding techniques (NPBT) in molecular farming: multipurpose crops for industrial bioproducts* 11/05/16 27/10/16 04/05/17
SC1-PM-07-2017: Promoting mental health and wellbeing in the young 29/07/16 04/10/16 11/04/17
SC1-PM-08-2017: New therapies for rare diseases* 29/07/16 04/10/16 11/04/17
SC1-PM-10-2017: Comparing the effectiveness of existing healthcare interventions in the adult population 29/07/16 04/10/16 11/04/17
LCE-06-2017: New knowledge and technologies 20/09/16 n/a 05/01/17
SFS-34-2017: Innovative agri-food chains:  unlocking the potential for competitiveness and sustainability 04/10/16 14/02/17 13/09/17
SFS-35-2017: Innovative solutions for sustainable food packaging 04/10/16 n/a 14/02/17
BG-08-2017: Innovative solutions for improving the safety and dietary properties of seafood 04/10/16 n/a 14/02/17
SC1-PM-17-2017: Personalised computer models  and in-silico systems for wellbeing 08/11/16 n/a 14/03/17

Further Information about Indian participation in Horizon 2020

European Commission India Country Page: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/hi/h2020_localsupp_india_en.pdf