Ancestral Studies at the University of Glasgow is committed to developing a world-leading portfolio of research activity. 

Our ambition is to develop a global Ancestral Studies research network of students, scholars and professionals. We will begin to work towards this goal by theming our research under the four following strands:

  • Ancestral Voices

How do we tell people who we are and where we came from?  What stories do we choose to tell or not tell?  There are many forms of expressing ancestry – words (written, spoken and sung), performance, dance, creative craft, images and so on.  We create biographies of people, objects and buildings in order to understand them in the present and the future. At the University of Glasgow you are able to explore the narratives of ancestry in the past by examining these texts, music, film, art, data and images.

  • Ancestral Belonging

Ancestry is emotive.  Often we experience an emotional connection to the place that we feel that we belong.  But how do we constitute this place of belonging? Are we connected to landscapes? Communities? Or something else?  With ever-fluid conceptualisations of family, community and place, how we locate ourselves in a connected world is becoming increasingly important. 

  • Ancestral Bodies  

Our bodies tell the story of who we are now.  Inside and outwardly, bodies are a record of our multiple identities.  Inside the body resides codes, passed on to us by recent and distant ancestors, that inform much of our identity and affect how we navigate the world around us.  Increasing access to these codes – DNA analysis and genetic profiling – impacts our understanding of ourselves in ways that have not yet been meaningfully interrogated. At Glasgow you will engage with this phenomenon critically and carefully.  You will consider it alongside studies of outward communications of ancestry through dress and adornment, through the objects we carry with us and the heirlooms we wear.  We are interested in the interactions and negotiations between these identities in both the individual and the collective.

  • Ancestral Sites

In Ancestral Studies, ‘sites’ are thought of more broadly than geographical locations or the place at which something occurred in the past.  Sites can, of course, be physical – landscapes, human bodies, physical resources like centres of research such as archives.  They can also be conceptual – memories and data.  In Ancestral Studies, we bring together a range of disciplines to consider issues of ancestry; the interdisciplinary intersections created generate new ‘sites’  from which we can think in new and innovative ways.  We are particularly interested in how these nodes help us to anticipate ancestral futures through studies of ancestral pasts.