Lancaster University

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University to undertake major research on History of Gibraltar

07/04/2002 11:32:27

The University's History Department has been awarded over £250,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) to explore the history of Gibraltar. The focus of the research is the Rock's hitherto seriously under-studied non-military history.. With Gibraltar's constitutional future in question, the nature of 'Gibraltarian identity' has rendered vital a clear understanding of the historical factors and processes out of which it has formed.

A significant part of the research will be carried out by two fully-funded PhD students and a full-time research assistant. Their work will be supervised by the project's director, Professor Martin Blinkhorn, and Dr Stephen Constantine, both of whom will also make their own research contribution: Professor Blinkhorn chiefly in the area of Gibraltar's relationship with Spain and Dr Constantine in that of Gibraltar's place in British colonial policy. The 3-year research programme will begin in October 2002, with the first six months devoted to establishing and developing links with local historians in Gibraltar, with Spanish scholars, and with interested scholars elsewhere in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, many of whom it is expected will become associated with the project. Most of the remaining time will be spent investigating historical sources in Gibraltar itself, in Spain, and in the United Kingdom, focusing on the formation and development of Gibraltar's unique multi-ethnic society, Gibraltar's complex relationship with both Britain and its Spanish hinterland, and the resulting emergence among its people of a distinctive sense of identity.

It is planned that the principal outcome of the Lancaster University History Department's 'Gibraltar project' will be (as well, of course, as the two PhD theses) a collaborative scholarly volume which will immediately take its place as the standard history of Gibraltar. Discussions concerning possible publication are already going ahead with Oxford University Press, which is "enthusiastic" about the project.

Professor Martin Blinkhorn states: "We believe this to be an immensely valuable, timely, and perhaps (in view of Gibraltar's current situation) even urgent research project, the most important outcome of which will be a work of serious and innovative historical scholarship."