Cottonopolis: SCI Researcher part of research collective examining the ecological legacy of Britain’s Empire of Cotton

The researchers will reflect on legacies of Manchester’s intimate connection with cotton & ecological change by asking four main questions:

1.      How can research into hidden histories & 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, land cover) across Britain’s empire?

Building on this the researchers develop their concerns with current definitions of ‘scientific excellence’ as undermining stated commitments of funding bodies to fundamental structural change required to diversify the people involved with, and diverse knowledge structures underpinning, 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’?

We are very happy to be working with partners, including the Royal Geographical Society, the John Rylands Libary, the Geological Society, the British Geological Survey and the Manchester Geographical Society.

The UoM Cottonopolis Collective consists of 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 here.