Cottonopolis Collective

Expert researchers from across The University of Manchester, including frequent collaborators of Creative Manchester, have joined a research collective examining the ecological legacy of Britain’s Empire of Cotton.

Cottonopolis collective

This research will tie into Creative Manchester’s research theme of Creative and Civic Futures, as the Cottonopolis Collective will reflect on the legacies of Manchester’s intimate connection with cotton and ecological change by asking four key questions:

  1. How can research into hidden histories and archives of cotton across Manchester reveal trajectories of global environmental and social transformation in the 19th/early-20th century?
  2. Using the history of cotton in Manchester as an inflexion point, what claims can be made on the epistemology (underlying ways of thinking or doing) of environmental science?
  3. How can scientific, social science, and art-based methods (archival, mapping, participatory approaches) reveal Manchester’s longer-term effects on the use of the land (land use and cover) across Britain’s empire?

    Building on this, the Cottonopolis Collective will develop and define their concerns with the current definitions of ‘scientific excellence.’ The primary concerns rest in the fact that current definitions undermine the stated commitments of funding bodies and the fundamental structural change required to diversify the people involved with environmental research. This leads to the final research question:
  4. Can we generate more inclusive, reflexive, critical and just environmental knowledge production processes across the UK’s environmental science community by reframing ‘scientific excellence’?

This is an excellent and exciting research collective, a collaboration between our partners at John Rylands Research Institute and Library, the Royal Geographical Society, the Geological Society, the British Geological Survey, and the Manchester Geographical Society. Key researchers include Aditya Ramesh, Alison Browne, Christopher Jackson with Polyanna Bispo, Mark Usher, Jenna Ashton and Nate Millington, Gareth Clay, Laura Richards, Abi Stone, Jonny Huck, Martin Dodge, David Polya, Richard Bardgett, David Brown, and Anke Bernau.

Read the full UKRI announcement.