Expeditionary Film, Geographical Science and Media Culture

This PhD project, funded by AHRC and based in Royal Holloway’s Social & Cultural Geography Group, is supported by the newly-established Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and the Royal Society.

The project will focus especially on the production, distribution and presentation of films made on successive Everest expeditions between 1922 and 1953. Drawing on unique archival film collections held by the BFI, the Everest expedition archives and related collections such as The Times archives, the research will consider the logistical and technical requirements of expeditionary film, including the role of Sherpa porters in film-making; the role of media sponsorship in shaping the presentation of expedition work; and how film was shown, and to what audiences, within the context of popular and scientific understandings of mountaineering in the period.

The research will also consider the wider significance and potential uses of the expeditionary film archive. This involves consideration of the role of key organizations, including the RGS and the BFI, in developing a community of interest around geographical film in the first half of the twentieth century. In addition to research in the unique Everest archives and in the associated BFI collection, the project will examine the potential of digital film in the context of public engagement and public memory.

The project will be supervised by Felix Driver (Professor of Human Geography at Royal Holloway) and Catherine Souch (Head of Research at the RGS-IBG). It is supported by the British Film Institute.

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