Sadie Watson looks down on an archaeological site (c) MOLA

MOLA awarded new research grant by UKRI to run public engagement partnership

MOLA team

We're delighted to announce that we have been awarded a new research grant by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) to run a place-based public engagement partnership together with Volunteer Centre Hackney, Single Homeless Project and the Big Issue.

The £37,000 grant is part of a £550,000 pathfinder programme to support collaborative working between research organisations, partner organisations and communities. Each project is driven by a geographically defined community need and is designed to shape and generate new learning through engagement with research and innovation.

'Evidence from the Edge: materialising poverty present and past' will investigate changing housing conditions in Hackney. Together with our partners, we will co-design a research project that will look at how people lived throughout the mid-19th to the mid-20th century and also at how buildings were constructed during those times. The project will compare and contrast the differences experienced by the wealthy and the destitute, using an archaeological lens; the main setting will be Shoreditch Park in Hoxton, which was previously the subject of a MOLA community dig.

This work has tremendous archaeological potential for the experience of Hackney residents by looking at a time period when the site was occupied by a range of housing types including 19th century terraced and post-war prefabs, and associated ecclesiastical and amenity structures including church halls and pubs. The project will run until May 2020.

We will work with our partners to develop tools and techniques for understanding how to approach research in a specific environment by working with people who have a lived experience of that place. Through this partnership, local residents will be given training and support to become 'Volunteer Researchers' and to play a role in building a story about their area and its history.

This project also closely aligns with the new thematic framework for our research activities, as set out in our new Research Prospectus. It encompasses our efforts to create new knowledge through our archaeological work, to increase data, research and participation opportunities offered through our citizen science projects and to explore the effectiveness and value of applying an archaeologcial approach to the contemporary world.

In the long-term, the partnerships established through this project will be strengthened through continued participation in a future large- scale co-designed research project, and will embed new practices into research work at MOLA as we expand our collaborative research capacity as an Independent Research Organisation.

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