Speculative Lunch: Photography in Research

Last month, IASH hosted a Speculative Lunch on photography in research. The academic lead for the project is Dr Ella Chmielewska, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Visual Studies. The event was chaired by Dr Tom Allbeson, a research associate attached to the project. He took a few moments to reflect on why they decided a Speculative Lunch would be helpful, how the event unfolded and the potential outcomes. College of Humanities and Social Science academic staff interested in proposing an IASH Speculative Lunch of their own can find out more here. The next event of this type will focus on Reparations for Slavery and will be held on November 10th.
Fostering Photographic Research at CHSS 
On Monday 22 September we held a “speculative lunch” at IASH in relation to a new project working across the College of the Humanities and Social Sciences to develop research skills relating to photography.

The project is supported by the University’s Challenge Investment Fund (CIF) scheme and the lunch event was suggested by members of the CIF Committee as a useful way to meet other academics who might be interested in the project and to share ideas about how to take the project forward.

The lunch was attended by 14 representatives from a number of schools across the College including Edinburgh College of Art, the School of History, Classics & Archaeology, and the School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures. The invitation also garnered interest from a further 6 academics who weren’t available on the day but asked to be kept informed.

I introduced the initiative, explaining its aim of developing an interdisciplinary training programme for postgraduate students, doctoral candidates and early career researchers.

About half a dozen half day workshops are envisaged, each with 2 speakers (perhaps one key note speaker and one respondent) followed by a seminar. We are hoping to get speakers from outside the University to deliver the workshops “on location” with partners across the city, although we’re at an early stage of planning and have not yet begun discussions with potential partners.

Following the brief introduction, we discussed suggestions and comments regarding potential topics and partners, as well as logistical and pedagogical issues concerning delivery of the programme. We also asked participants for their suggestions regarding potential participants in the workshops and specific issues they would want to see covered, whether practical, ethical or methodological.

The discussion was very helpful and I’ll be considering the points raised, developing a detailed plan for development of the project, and circulating it for comment with a view to delivering the programme of workshops in the New Year.

A subsidiary aim of the project is to bring together those with research interests in the theory, history and practice of photography. As a result of the lunch, we’re looking into the idea of establishing the “Edinburgh Photographic Research Network” to host a rolling programme of events.

Dr Tom Allbeson
Research Associate
15 October 2014