Academic disciplines differ widely in terms of their conceptual, methodological, and theoretical frameworks, and the specificity of these frameworks often makes it difficult for scientists, social scientists, and scholars in the humanities to engage one another on issues of common interest, and to communicate to the general public in simple and effective ways. The things we study, however, can provide common anchoring points for collective conversations across the boundaries of specialised expertise and with the people who encounter, produce, or use these objects in their everyday lives.

Objects is a long-term, modular project developed by Inanna Hamati-Ataya and Jacqueline Garget as the first major collaboration between gloknos and the Cambridge Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre. The project will serve our common mission of fostering innovative transdisciplinary research, and will focus specifically on furthering our understanding of the scientific, historical, and social dimensions of agricultural practices and food-related objects as the carriers of human knowledge.

Starting in 2018-19 with funding from the Isaac Newton Trust, the European Research Council, and the TIGR2ESS project, Objects will assemble multiple small groups of researchers from the natural, physical, and social sciences and well as the humanities, to discuss specific objects (ecofacts or artefacts) relating to global food security. Conversations will be audio-visually recorded and transcribed, and objects photographed to create a series of feature articles, podcasts, a selection of videos for online dissemination, a well-captioned public photography exhibition, and an edited volume. The project is anticipated to generate novel ideas and enthusiasm for new cross-disciplinary collaborations to emerge. Additionally, Objects is designed to extend conversations about food security to a larger public audience and thereby contribute to public awareness and discussion of the food security challenge.

More information about the project will be added to this page in the coming weeks. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact: Inanna Hamati-Ataya.

The first edition of the Objects project features 5 teams of experts engaged in trans-disciplinary conversations that will be rolled out gradually in different formats from March 2019 onward.

The themes selected for the 2018-19 edition of the project are wheat, the potato, the cow, processed food, and the fridge-freezer. Links to the associated films, podcasts, and blogposts will be added to this page soon.


Jean Adams (Centre for Diet and Activity Research); Vicky Avery (Fitzwilliam Museum); Alison Bentley (National Institute of Agricultural Botany); Melissa Calaresu (History); Helen Anne Curry (History and Philosophy of Science); Steve Evans (Institute for Manufacturing); Shailaja Fennell (Land Economy); David Firman (National Institute of Agricultural Botany); Lauren Gardiner (Cambridge University Herbarium); Jacqueline Garget (Plant Sciences); Inanna Hamati-Ataya (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities); Lili Jia (Engineering); Martin Jones (Archaeology); Mukesh Kumar (Engineering); David Nally (Geography); Jaideep Prabhu (Judge Business School); Pablo Salas (Land Economy); Toby Smith (Conservation Research Institute); Marie Louise Sorensen (Archaeology); Lesley Steinitz (History); James Wood (Veterinary Medicine).


19 March 2019 | Objects: Carriers of Knowledge | Cambridge Festival of Science.

15 October 2019 | Meat and Potatoes: Changing Diets for Changing Times? | Cambridge Festival of Ideas


If you missed the 'Meat and Potatoes' panel we organised at the 2019 Cambridge Festival of Ideas, you can read Jacqueline Garget's excellent account of our panelists' interventions in her essay 'What's your Beef?'. Jacqueline is the Research Communications Manager at the University's Office of External Affairs and Communications.

Videos: [more coming soon]

Lesley Steinitz | Meat and Beef in British Cultural History [YouTube link]


Image: Wheat field in South Cambridgeshire. Credit: Inanna Hamati-Ataya.