Research is a major activity at IWM. As an Independent Research Organisation, our appetite for new approaches and our knowledge of our extensive collections provides an essential grounding to how we curate and present the history of conflict. It is our intention that IWM’s research should speak not just to the academic community but to all our visitors.
"IWM’s collections provide our staff with a vast resource for their research, and one of the rewarding aspects of my work is to witness the special relationship they bring to that activity, through constant immersion in the material culture that conflict has produced. Raw unedited film footage, hastily scribbled diary entries, objects exchanged as gifts between soldiers of different nationalities – these are just some of the materials that give research at IWM its endless possibilities".
Suzanne Bardgett, Head of Academic Research and Partnerships
Research is a major activity at IWM with projects spanning legacies of Empire, refugees and displacement and the role of social media in conflict.
THE TIM HETHERINGTON COLLECTION AND CONFLICT IMAGERY NETWORK
The University of Leeds and IWM have received Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding for a network to take place in 2020 and 2021, exploring the archive of the award-winning conflict photographer Tim Hetherington. The collection was acquired by IWM in 2017, and comprises Hetherington’s seminal photography and video work from assignments in Liberia, Afghanistan and Libya.
FILMING FOR PEACE IN 1990S CROATIA AND BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
In 2019, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded funding for an international research network led by the University of Hull to bring together researchers, museum professionals, journalists, peace-building experts and survivors of displacement to examine the work of United Nations Television and its collection, produced during the Yugoslav War and deposited at IWM in 1996. The UNTV collection contains 200 reports and video letters, over 2000 rushes, and around 700 documents, providing unparalleled insights into UNTV’s operations during the Yugoslav Wars.
In 2020, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded funding for Provisional Semantics, one of eight Foundational Projects funded under the Towards a National Collection Programme. A collaboration between Tate, The National Trust, Imperial War Museums and the Decolonising Arts Institute at the University of the Arts London, this project will explore how museums and heritage organisations can engage in decolonising practices to produce search terms, catalogue entries and interpretations to support everyone to engage positively with a digitised national collection.
IWM staff are active in the research community, with specialisms including conflict photography, material culture of war and sexual violence in conflict.
Paul Cornish has worked at IWM London since 1989. He worked as Senior Curator on the team that created IWM London’s First World War Galleries and is the author of the accompanying book, The First World War Retold (2014). He is currently a member of the team developing new Second World War galleries, opening in 2021. For the past twenty years Paul has pursued the study of the material culture of conflict. He has co-hosted six conferences held at IWM and is co-editor of Contested Objects (2009), Bodies in Conflict (2013), Modern Conflict and the Senses (2017) and Conflict Landscapes (2021). He is also co-editor of the Routledge book series Material Culture and Modern Conflict.
Vikki Hawkins is a Curator, working on IWM London’s Second World War Galleries, due to open in 2021. She is responsible for content related to the war in Asia and the Pacific, the British Empire, and the British Home Front. In August 2021 she published ‘Displaying Marginalised and “hidden” histories at the Imperial War Museum London: The Second World War gallery regeneration project’, in a special edition of the War and Society journal. Vikki is supervising a PhD student, Megan O'Mahony, with the London School of Economics, exploring material culture that highlights narratives of sexual violence in conflict.
Chris Cooper is Senior Curator in the Contemporary Conflict team. He is responsible for developing the museum’s collections relating to the Iraq War and counter-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria. He is the IWM lead on the Social Media in Conflict Research Project, working in collaboration with Dr Charlie Winter of King’s College London. His current research themes include social media and its influence on the conflict environment and how ISIS used the social media sphere to disseminate propaganda.