A professor from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has joined an elite group of academics elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in recognition of her world-class research and “unrivalled resource of expertise and knowledge”.
The honour acknowledges Professor Elizabeth Edwards’ distinguished career in innovative research in photographic history, including her role as Research Professor in Photographic History and as first director of the ground-breaking Photographic History Research Centre (PHRC) at DMU.
Professor Edwards’ election is the latest in a list of honours bestowed on her for the expertise she brings to her subject.
In 2013, she was featured in a book discussing the contributions of the 50 most influential writers in the world, both living and historical, on the subject of photography.
And in 2014 Professor Edwards became the first woman, and the first Briton, to be awarded the Lifetime Achievement honour by the Society for Visual Anthropology, a sub-group of the American Anthropological Association.
The award, which has only been presented on four previous occasions, goes to “individuals whose body of work is recognised for its exemplary impact on the field of anthropology.”
Professor Edwards says being elected a Fellow of the British Academy is recognition, not just for her, but for the importance of photographic history and thus entire team in the PHRC as well as De Montfort University’s pursuit for academic excellence.
She said: “I am amazed by the honour and very pleased for the PHRC but I am also very pleased that it reflects so well on DMU. It shows that the kind of photographic history we are interested in has been recognised at the very highest level.
“What we enjoy at DMU is having the space to be experimental in a way that more conventional departments at other universities do not, and that is why we are able to create the world-leading research that we do at the PHRC.
“I came to DMU with a brief to set up the PHRC and have had great support from the Vice-Chancellor and the university. What the group has achieved, because of that, in just over four years is amazing.”
For more than 30 years, Professor Elizabeth Edwards has been working on 19th and early 20th-century colonial and anthropological images, and on the history of photographs in museums, archives and cultural heritage. In 2012 she completed a major EU-funded project on the contemporary legacy of colonial photographs.
She has earned an international reputation for developing a deep understanding of the relationships between photography, anthropology and history. She is currently working on a book on photography and popular cultural heritage in the 19th century.
Earlier this year the PHRC put together a series called The Five Photographs That (you didn’t know) Changed Everything as part of BBC Radio 3’s acclaimed evening slot - The Essay.
Lord Stern, President of the British Academy, said: “This year we have the honour of once again welcoming the finest researchers and scholars into our Fellowship. Elected from across the UK and world for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences, they represent an unrivalled resource of expertise and knowledge.
“Our Fellows play a vital role in the work of the Academy; encouraging younger researchers, engaging in public discussion of the great issues and ideas of our time, and contributing to policy reports.
“Their collective work and expertise are testament to why research in the humanities and social sciences is vital for our understanding of the world and humanity.”
Posted on Tuesday 28th July 2015