Swansea University Home - 2010 - 2011

Current Research Projects

Supporting areas of research strength across the College, the Institute provides an interface between high-quality researchers, external partners and user groups. 

Listed below are some of the research projects the Institute is currently supporting.  Details of further projects are listed under the Callaghan Centre for the Study of Conflict, Power and Empire and the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales.


Mapping Medieval Chester: place and identity in an English borderland city c. 1200-1500

Dr Catherine Clarke, a specialist in medieval culture at Swansea University is currently engaged in a project entitled:  Mapping Medieval Chester: place and identity in an English borderland city c. 1200-1500.

This collaborative, interdisciplinary research project led by Swansea University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is exploring how material and imagined urban landscapes construct and convey a sense of place-identity.

The focus of the project is the city of Chester and the identities that its inhabitants formed between c.1200 and 1500. A key aspect of the project is to integrate cartographic and literary mappings of the medieval city in order to understand more how urban landscapes in the Middle Ages were interpreted and navigated by local inhabitants. 

The project outputs include a website (www.medievalchester.ac.uk) which brings together digital editions of medieval texts in Latin, English and Welsh with an interactive atlas of the city c. 1500. These materials reflect the multiple languages and cultures of medieval Chester, and locating textual features on the map suggests the ways in which different communities configured and represented the urban space around them. Beyond its specific focus on Chester, the project has developed new strategies for linking XML editing with GIS digital mapping, and reflects on the technical and theoretical challenges involved.

A key feature of this project is its engagement with multiple audiences, via the project Blog and especially through the 'Mapping Medieval Chester Festival'.  The Festival celebrated the launch of the project website in 2009 and was organised in partnership with the Grosvenor Museum, Chester, which involved nearly 1200 people in activities and events across the city.

Future phases of the project are now in development, including continuing work with the heritage sector in Chester to share project research with the local community and visitors to the city, and planned future research on another medieval city.


Colonialism in comparative perspective: Tianjin under nine flags, 1860-1949

Professor Nikki Cooper from the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea is co-principal investigator on a £860k ESRC funded 3-year research project entitled 'Colonialism in comparative perspective: Tianjin under nine flags, 1860-1949'.  The research, which started in 2008, is being conducted by a group of eight scholars based at the Universities of Bristol and Swansea.

Between 1860 and 1945, the Chinese port city of Tianjin was the site of up to nine foreign-controlled concessions, as well as, temporarily, a multi-national military government (1900-02), and a series of evolving municipal administrations.

Tianjin provides an exemplary model for the study of comparative colonial practices.  Situated close to the imperial capital, and, crucially, at the crossroads between the advances of European and Japanese imperialisms, Tianjin's economic and strategic importance necessarily drew the attention of all the major international powers: by 1901, nine separate foreign concessions had been secured within Tianjin.
The research aims at producing a comparative and trans-national analysis of the identities, practices and rivalries of five of the major powers established in Tianjin: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. The project will provide powerful new insights into the understanding of colonial history, as well as the history of globalisation in China, and will produce work with crossover value between a variety of different subfields of history and political science. The publication output will consist of: three international conferences; three monographs; two edited collections of papers and a number of journal articles. 


How the Leader Speaks: British Political Rhetoric and Argumentation

Dr Alan Finlayson is leading on a research project entitled, 'How the Leader Speaks: British Political Rhetoric and Argumentation' funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The project is a study of ways in which political speeches in Britain have developed and changed since 1895. Additionally, through digitising leadership speeches, and making them available online, the project will resource and promote the interdisciplinary study of political rhetoric and initiate debate about what makes a bad, good or great speech.

The research team presented some of their findings to the Political Studies Association in March where they also demonstrated the website. It is anticipated that this on-line speech portal will generate a healthy flow of traffic to meet the project's target objective: to identify www.britishpoliticalspeech.org as a recognised location of content and expertise in political speech/rhetoric.

The longer term intentions of the project include obtaining follow-on funding to expand the research and the website by incorporating an ever wider range of speeches, and the development of partnerships to help enhance the capacities of the site itself by, for example, providing access to audio-visual material.

Apart from significant impact on the scholarly community, non academic users can access the website and also upload or 'donate' a speech. This will make the site an ongoing and continually updated database recording the evolution of political speech past and present, and acting as a resource for political speech writers, schools and debating societies as well as academic researchers.


History, heritage, and urban regeneration: the global and local worlds of Welsh copper

Professor Huw Bowen from the Department of History and Classics at Swansea is leading a major new £95,000 research project, entitled 'History, heritage, and urban regeneration: the global and local worlds of Welsh copper'. 

The project, funded by The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), brings together researchers at Swansea University with partners at the University of Glamorgan, the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and the City and County of Swansea.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Swansea copper barques sailed the world to bring ore from Valparaiso, Santiago de Cuba, or Adelaide. The ore was turned into copper goods that were then exported from South Wales to Asia and the Atlantic region.  The study will explore this process and also the profound local, economic, social, and cultural impacts of this unique form of industrialisation. 

Drawing on cutting edge research and new technologies designed to bring the industrial past to life, the project is expected to appeal to a wide public audience, community groups and learners of all ages.

A major exhibition is to be held at the National Waterfront Museum in 2011 followed by a travelling exhibition throughout Wales; a 'virtual' exhibition with 3-D animations to be hosted on partners' websites; a public policy forum on heritage and urban regeneration; a one-day academic conference; the publication of a major study on the development of Welsh copper industry; and the production of a large volume of new heritage and educational materials.

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