Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Encountering Africa: Henri Gaden's Life and Photography in Colonial French West Africa, 1894-1939

Reproduced with the permission of the
Archives nationales d'outre-mer, Aix-en-Provence, France
Henri Gaden was a French Colonial officer, who lived in West Africa for 45 years. An ethnographer, linguist and gifted photographer, Gaden captured on camera a rich variety of encounters with Africa – from landscapes, architecture and trade to military campaigns and colonial life at numerous outposts. He also documented everyday village life, local music, dance and ritual. Gaden’s striking photographic images, exhibited for the first time at MUSA, provide rare insights into French West Africa in colonial times and the remarkable people he met.

Exhibition at MUSA
5 October 2017–25 February 2018
7a The Scores, St Andrews, KY16 9AR

Monday, 15 May 2017

East Side Story: Historical Pollution and Neighbourhood Sorting

The East Sides of cities such as London, Vancouver, New York and Paris have historically been the poorest. Some, but not all, have gentrified more recently, and this gentrification has been at the centre of media attention. These observations uncover two questions. Why were these neighbourhoods poor to begin with, and why did some gentrify while others did not? Research conducted by Stephan Heblich (University of Bristol), Alex Trew of the School of Economics & Finance (University of St Andrews) and Yanos Zylberberg (University of Bristol) ( suggests that this observation is the most visible consequence of the historically unequal distribution of air pollutants across neighborhoods. During the Industrial Revolution, many areas of Manchester, for example, were covered with layers of soot. Black stains on the pavements and buildings of areas such as Victoria Station or Ancoats in North-East Manchester remained until very recently. With the wrong weather, some areas could be submerged under dark, thick smog. This environmental disamenity made them unpleasant places to live and, in response, those who could afford moved to the neighbourhoods spared by the pollution. This sorting resulted in an unequal distribution of social classes across the city. Since the prevailing winds (The Westerlies) in London, Vancouver, New York, Paris or Manchester blow from the West to the East, the most visible component of such process ended up being the observed West-East differential in neighbourhood composition.

The authors examined nearly 5,000 industrial chimneys in 70 English cities in 1880 and use an atmospheric dispersion model to recreate the spatial distribution of pollution. The exercise was possible because of the fastidiousness of Victorian cartographers. These pioneering map-makers marked each building with landmarks such as factory chimneys. In addition, Victorian census-takers conducted detailed population studies over the nineteenth century.

There is a strong connection between the presence of air pollution and the share of low-skilled workers at the end of the nineteenth century. Such a correlation was absent before coal became the major energy source at the beginning of the century. The observed effect is substantial: the difference between being in the 10% and 90% most polluted neighbourhoods of Manchester was a difference of about 20 percentage points in the share of low-skilled workers. Most interestingly, the relationship between the presence of historic pollution and the share of low skilled workers in 2011 turns out to be quantitatively comparable to the one observed at the end of the nineteenth century. The previous result leaves one question unanswered. How could sorting caused by 1880 pollution be visible nowadays almost 100 years after the 1926 Smoke Abatement Act and 50 years after the Clean Air Acts (which quickly and considerably reduced the extent of coal-based pollution within cities)?

Available podcast:
The Guardian article (15 May 2017): Blowing in the wind: why do so many cities have poor east ends?

Friday, 24 March 2017

David Mitchell Conference 2017

This one-day international conference to be held on Saturday 3rd June 2017 brings together 20 speakers from ten countries to discuss the works of author David Mitchell. This sold-out event will also include a visit to Special Collections to see the new collection of his rare works held there, as well as a talk from the author himself.

Bringing together those researching, teaching and studying the author's work, the conference is open to academics, students and interested non-specialist parties alike.

The conference is organised by Rose Harris-Birtill of the School of English and has been made possible through the generous support of the School of English, GRADskills Postgraduate Conference fund and Student Project Fund. Rose will also be guest editing the associated publication following the conference, a special edition of the journal, C21 Literature. See for full information.

Follow DMcon2017 on Twitter

Monday, 13 March 2017

Workshop Series on Filmmakers - Andrzej Wajda

Come join us to pay tribute to....

Andrzej Wajda, the late Polish filmmaker

Workshop details:
Tuesday 28 March 2017
6.15 pm – 10 pm 
Meeting Room, School of Economics Castlecliffe
The Scores, KY16 9AR St Andrews, Scotland 
Includes as showing of: ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958)

Andrzej Wajda was a titan of a filmmaker whose visual range spanned iconography that went far beyond the country it represents, locating his work within the global socio-political discourse surrounding the turbulent history of the Twentieth century and specifically the volatile experience of his native Poland.

His politically engaged films often focused on the tribulations of working class life under authoritarian conditions. Globally, Wajda is possibly best-known for ASHES AND DIAMONDS (1958), part of his war trilogy, which references the Warsaw Uprising and its aftermath. We will show the film, with an introduction of the war trilogy by Prof. Dina Iordanova of the Department of Film Studies.

Visit the workshop series Facebook page.

This will be followed by presentations offering an insight into Wajda’s other influential films – from EVERYTHING FOR SALE (1969) and THE WEDDING (1973) to KATYN (2007) and WALESA: MAN OF HOPE (2013), as well as, of course, MAN OF MARBLE (1977) and MAN OF IRON (1981).

Acclaimed poet and author John Burnside – who is also Professor of Creative Writing at St Andrews – will approach his interest in Wajda from a unique angle, involving the fate of ASHES AND DIAMONDS star, Zbigniew Cybulski, as featured in his most recent novel.

With original contributions and video essays by Rohan Crickmar and Tomasz Hollanek.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day - profiles

To mark International Women's Day, we asked some of our leading female academics what inspires them and what advice they would give to women and young girls looking to pursue a career in academia…

Rebecca Sweetman, Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology, School of Classics

To hear Rebecca speaking about her research click here.
Rebecca graduated with a degree from University College Dublin in Archaeology and Classics. She spent a year on the excavation circuit and then started her PhD on Roman and Early Christian Mosaics of Crete at the University of Nottingham, spending most of her time in Athens and Crete. After a series of temporary jobs at the BSA (including Knossos Curator and Archivist Rebecca became Assistant Director of the BSA before coming to St Andrews as a lecturer in Ancient History and Archaeology in 2003.

What was your childhood ambition? 
I have wanted to be an archaeologist from as early as I can remember. There was a short-lived phase of wanting to be a vet but digging in the dirt was clearly more appealing than digging anywhere else….

What inspired you to get involved in *specialist subject*? 
I grew up surrounded by archaeology. My father is an archaeologist and we spent our school holidays on site in some form. When I went to university I was lucky enough to be able to spend my summers on archaeological projects in Ireland and Greece. Before I actually began working there, I hadn’t even considered working in Greece; I assumed incorrectly that it was for a privileged few. However, while working there I met a number of inspiring archaeologists from all sorts of backgrounds who made it clear, by their example, that a career in Greek archaeology is possible. The nature of archaeological fieldwork means that you get to know your colleagues really well, and there is a great natural sense of mentorship in the discipline. As an undergraduate student, a combination of my father and the people I worked for on fieldwork quietly encouraged and demonstrated the potential for following a career that you really enjoyed. As a postgraduate student working in Athens, I was inspired by fellow students, colleagues and visiting researchers to think broadly and see the wider views of the research I was involved in. While in Athens, the wonderful library ladies were a constant source of advice and inspiration and since coming to St Andrews I have been supported and encouraged by colleagues and leaders in my field. That so many people have given their time and guidance so generously and thoughtfully is hugely inspiring.

Who is your female icon? 
Traditionally women have been rather left out of the history of archaeology. At the turn of the century it was famously difficult for them to be taken seriously as field directors… it was believed that they were better suited for jobs such as dealing with pottery, archives or libraries. Archaeologists such as Kathleen Kenyon (excavator at Jericho) and Harriet Boyd-Hawes (excavator at Gournia, Crete) paved the way for women to be taken seriously as project directors. While the majority are still men, the more female site directors there are, the more women are encouraged to aspire to these roles. In the last few decades archaeology has seen the rise of some awesome women; in my field, Sue Alcock (Professor of Classical Archaeology and Classics at Michigan and leader in survey archaeology), Mary Beard (Professor of Classics at Cambridge), Sue Black (Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at Dundee) and Cathy Morgan (Professor of Classics and Archaeology at Oxford and previously director of the British School of Archaeology) have set new agendas, methods and standards in the discipline and in doing so are an inspiration for a whole new generation of women in archaeology and classics. Importantly, these women have been important role models in terms of making archaeology and classics accessible and attractive to a wide audience.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 
Fieldwork, research and chatting with colleagues is always fun and inspiring. However, I love to teach and it is particularly rewarding when our students carry on with careers or postgraduate work connected with archaeology. So much of archaeology is about gaining experience and I try to support our students in their endeavours to gain excavation, museum, archive placements. A decade ago I set up an honours module to take students to Greece which involves teaching and presentations at around 30 sites and museums. Students work hard on this module which is quite research focused and the value they get from the module is hugely motivating! Students say how what they have learned in class really falls into place having visited the sites. Every year we have a few students who are so inspired by being on site that they change their degrees to focus on archaeology; many students go on to do postgraduate work in archaeology and all have a fantastic time!

What advice would you give to females and young girls who may be interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Archaeology is a great career and one doesn’t need to have a beard to be an archaeologist. If you are interested and inspired by it, it is possible to have a good and rewarding career in archaeology no matter what your background or future aspirations. Talk to lots of people about their experiences, get advice and collect lots of different skills along the way.

Catherine O’Leary, Reader in Spanish, School of Modern Languages

Catherine studied International Marketing and Languages at Dublin City University before going on to complete a PhD in Spanish literature at University College Dublin. She lectured at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth from 2000 until moving to St Andrews in 2013. She is currently Head of the Department of Spanish and Associate Dean of Arts and Divinity. Her research focuses on four main areas: contemporary Spanish theatre, censorship, gender and identity, and exile and cultural memory.

What was your childhood ambition? 
I didn’t have a clear goal – my ambitions changed over time. When I was very young, I wanted to solve mysteries; I later dreamt of being a writer, an artist, a lawyer… I guess that some of this fed into my work, which involves writing, examining censorship legislation, and sometimes even detective work in archives!

What inspired you to get involved in Spanish? 
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I finished school. I seriously considered going to Art college; I thought about law; I was attracted to English and History, but persuaded by the trendiness of ‘marketing’ at the time, I opted for a course that involved business and languages. I enjoyed, but was not inspired by, business studies and – crucially - was disappointed to find that the language element was mostly non-literary. I stayed the course, had a fantastic year abroad in Spain and realised that I loved both literature and university life. This path eventually led me to literary studies and to a PhD in Spanish, although my business background is surprisingly useful at times.

Who is your female icon?
Mary Robinson, former Irish President. She is an inspirational figure and was a game-changer in terms of Irish politics and in Irish social life.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s hard to pick any one thing. One of the joys of the job is the fact that it is multifaceted. I love teaching and am genuinely interested both in what students have to say and in having my own thinking challenged: I am always learning too. I love getting stuck into a research project, be it on literary reflections of gender, memory and exile or on theatre censorship, and considering what that can tell us about society and humanity. I even mostly like the administrative side of things and learning how this institution works. It’s a privilege to work in an environment where I am encouraged to develop several different skillsets, where I can read literature and call it my job, and where I meet and engage with (mostly) intelligent people all day.

What advice would you give to females and young girls who may be interested in pursuing a career in your field?
Go for it! But be aware that there is luck involved, as well as lots of hard work. Speak to those who are already in the field and attend seminars and talks if you can – don't assume that they are only for staff or postgraduates.

Monday, 27 February 2017

EPSRC IAA Showcase & Exhibition 2017

Discover the benefits of the vast array of St Andrews’ state-of-the-art scientific research at this FREE event

Register for this FREE event by 1 March 2017!

Visit the EPSRC IAA Showcase & Exhibition website for more details (

The University of St Andrews presents a day of:

  • researcher & industry partner presentations
  • exhibits & demonstrations
  • poster sessions
  • networking & more

to demonstrate the range of our impact-generating research in the physical sciences which have benefited from EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account and Global Challenges Research Funds.

This is a chance to learn how research at St Andrews is changing the future in fields as diverse as:

We are committed to stimulating long-term strategic industrial engagement, to increase collaboration and to widen public outreach.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Evidence of ‘super henge’ surrounding Stonehenge

Scientists have unveiled a remarkable new picture of Stonehenge and its surrounding areas, including the remains of an even bigger ‘super henge’ nearby.

The mammoth project, led by Prof. Vince Gaffney at the University of Birmingham in conjunction with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, is likely to transform our knowledge of this iconic landscape.

For the project, Dr Richard Bates of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, used remote sensing techniques and geophysical surveys to discover hundreds of new features which now form part of the most detailed archaeological digital map of the Stonehenge landscape ever produced.

Electromagnetic survey results
showing the outer bank at Durrington Walls
marking the circumference of the new super henge
The startling results of the survey include 17 previously unknown ritual monuments dating to the period when Stonehenge achieved its iconic shape. The project has also revealed completely unexpected information on previously known monuments. Arguably the most significant relates to the Durrington Walls ‘super henge’, situated a short distance from Stonehenge. This immense ritual monument, probably the largest of its type in the world, has a circumference of more than 1.5 kilometres (0.93 miles). The geophysical results have provided a new model of this feature that encompasses the vast monument in one complete picture. Geophysics used in archaeology may never be the same again and the team now hopes to apply a similar approach to other iconic sites. In Orkney, Dr Bates is currently applying some of the new techniques to study the landscapes around the henges of the Ring of Brodgar and Stones of Stenness.

The project is the subject of a BBC documentary Operation Stonehenge: What Lies Beneath, which aired on BBC 2 on 11 September. [press release].

The project recently was awarded Research Project of the Year 2017 by Current Archeaology magazine.