Abstracta in Concreta Research Network

The Abstracta in Concreta interdisciplinary research network provides a vital link between university based academics with interests in the philosophical and religious dimensions of material culture and their colleagues in the museum sector. Under the rubric of the Collaborative Framework Agreement between the University of Glasgow and Culture and Sport Glasgow, members of this cross-Faculty and cross-sector research network share a concern to explore the interface between museum collections, philosophy, religious studies, archaeology, and education. Co-ordinated through the boundary crossing Centre for Philosophy and Religion, this research network includes scholars from a number of disciplines within the College of Arts, the College of Social Sciences, and Glasgow Museums. The research network has been formed to develop bids for, and advise on, a series of national and international research projects under the Abstracta in Concreta heading; each project will be rooted in the collaborative agreement with Culture and Sport Glasgow. Discussions are underway with a number of prospective international research collaborators and these will be followed by a number of bids for funding. One Abstracta in Concreta project currently under development involves collaboration with research partners in Renmin University, Beijing.

The Abstracta in Concreta Network has been formed to pursue major cross-College research awards consistent with the following broad goals:

To promote the understanding and use of museum collections, particularly Glasgow's museum collections, for research in philosophy and religious studies.

To build and consolidate an international interdisciplinary network of experts concerned with the interface of material culture, humanities disciplines and cultural (philosophical and religious) education.

To demonstrate the potential of intercultural philosophy to act as a catalyst for unleashing the explosive educational potential of museum collections, at both a national and international level.

By providing models of good practice, to shape future patterns of collaboration between universities and museums within the UK and internationally.

To inform cultural policy at a regional, national and international level, and to suggest new strategies for implementing that policy through developing the potential of collaboration between universities and museums.

Current Members of the Abstracta in Concreta Network include:

Dr Martin Bellamy, Research and Major Projects Manager, Glasgow Museums

Ms Monica Callaghan, Head of Education, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow

Professor John Caughie, Director of Arts Lab, University of Glasgow

Dr Sally-Anne Coupar, Curator of Archaeology, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow

Dr Nyree Finlay, Archaeology, University of Glasgow

Dr Victoria Harrison, Philosophy and Education, University of Glasgow

Professor David Jasper, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

Dr Gary Kemp, Philosophy, University of Glasgow

Dr Richard King, Philosophy, University of Glasgow

Professor Michael Moss, HATII, University of Glasgow

Professor Nicholas Pearce, History of Art, University of Glasgow

Mr Leon Robinson, Religious Education, University of Glasgow

Dr Philip Tonner, Philosophy and HATII, University of Glasgow

Dr Helen Watkins, Research Manager, Human History, Glasgow Museums


If you are interested in joining the Abstracta in Concreta Network or contributing to any of its projects, please contact Dr Victoria Harrsion (Victoria.Harrison@glasgow.ac.uk).


See below for information about a previous funded Abstracta in Concreta project.

Abstracta in Concreta: Engaging Museum Collections in Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies Research

21st May, 2009

A one day research training event jointly hosted by the Department of Philosophy, University of Glasgow and Glasgow Museums

 Funded by a grant from the Higher Education Academy, Subject Centre for Philosophy and Religious Studies.

This collaborative Research Training Seminar, to be held at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, will provide research students in philosophy and religious studies with the tools to engage critically with museum collections, such as those held by Glasgow Museums. We will explore the potential of museum collections for contributing to postgraduate research in philosophy and religious studies.


09.30  Registration: Tea/Coffee

10.00 Welcome: Philip Tonner (Research Support Officer, Glasgow Museums): ‘Museum Collections and the Archaeology of Religion: a philosophical reflection’.

10.35-11.15 Leon Robinson (University Teacher, Department of Religious Education, University of Glasgow): ‘Meanings, objects, and where the truth lies’.

11.15-11.30 Tea/Coffee

11.30-12.15 Ellen McAdam (Collections Services Manager, Glasgow Museums): ‘Figurines in ancient Mesopotamia: public performance and private belief’.

12.15-12.40 Victoria Harrison (Reader, Department of Philosophy and Department of Religious Education, University of Glasgow): 'Expanding your research skills: Mind Mapping'.

12.40-13.40 Lunch

13.40-14.40 Martin Bellamy (Research and Major Projects Manager, Glasgow Museums): Tour of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.

14:40-15.25 Elisabeth Schulte (Curator of World Religions, Glasgow Museums): ‘Making the most of Museum Collections in Philosophy and Religious Studies’.

15.25-15.40 Tea/Coffee

15.40-16.25 Wiliam Kilbride (Research Manager, Human History, Glasgow Museums): ‘Understanding the archaeology of religious conversion’

16.25-16.45 Plenary discussion and evaluation.

16.45-17.00 Closing Remarks: Victoria Harrison and Philip Tonner


Registration, lunch and refreshments were provided free to post-graduate students and bursaries were available to assist with the costs of attending.



Printable version of the programme


Venue: Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, 200 Woodhead Road, South Nitshill Industrial Estate, Glasgow G53 7NN.

Telephone:                   0141 276 9300        .

Click here for a map.

Travelling by train head to Nitshill Station (from Glasgow Central). The Resource Centre can be seen from Nitshill Station.


We are now offering a consultancy service to others interested in the interface between academic philosophy and museums. Please contact Dr Victoria Harrison: Victoria.Harrison@glasgow.ac.uk

Noli me Tangere (Swiss Tapestry c.1600). (c) Culture and Sport, Glasgow (Museums).