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Dig Where We Stand – Or when you are in a hole don’t stop digging!

By Sarah Dhanjal, on 8 April 2012

What does ‘digging where we stand’ mean? The phase has its roots in Sweden, popularised by Sven Lindqvist and then in the History Workshop movement in the UK.  The idea is that by researching and learning about their own history and the place where they are living, individuals and groups would regain some control over the understanding of their lives and their inter-connectedness.

We are a UCL research team funded by the AHRC’s Research for Community Heritage awards.  We will be telling you a lot more about the project and what we intend to do over the coming weeks and months, but to start with we thought we might give you a quick introduction.  At a national level these projects are intended to collaborate with HLF funded projects in the ‘All Our Stories’ strand.  This will help universities and groups to establish partnerships in order to support community heritage research.

What that might mean in terms of research and of collaboration is in practice very open.  The possibilities are only really restricted by the finances – none of the grants are huge but there are plenty of interesting community heritage and community heritage collaborations and applications we could develop if we set our minds to it.

The project is in its early stages, so we intend to arrange a series of events to bring together people from across London and the south east who are interested in researching community heritage both from inside and outside UCL. At these events we hope you will get the chance to do or hear something new but also can meet others who can help with research ideas and practices. You will be able to see bite-size demonstrations of how to do community heritage research or of techniques that might be of use as well as behind the scenes tours of the UCL Museums and Collections, not to mention advice on how to apply or HLF money. Much more detail about these events will be provided soon.

So who can get involved in the Dig Where We Stand?  Our project has two central objectives – first to see how we can involve young people and students in community heritage and history making activities and second, to take a more collaborative and inter-connected approach to community heritage by bringing community archaeology with community archives, oral history with geography, film and video with digital technologies. Our team reflects this approach (and the breadth of interest and expertise) available at UCL. We already have historians and oral historians, community archaeologists and archivists, geographers, museology, film studies and digital humanities on the team, and there is plenty of space for more people to get involved, notably doctoral students.

Please follow us on twitter @UCL_DigWWStand and like us on Facebook.  We’ll be posting news there and blogging about the project as it develops – watch this space.