Material knowledge, as understood by EMKP, is knowledge about things, objects, architecture and material culture as well as about the insights gained through their making and use in practices and daily life. This includes, but is not limited to, the chaîne opératoire, the process of designing, producing and using, the materiality of things, the building and life of structures, and how “things” form part of the community and its events. It is about how skills are gained and mastered, how and for what purpose raw materials are transformed, and how material culture allows people to engage with and re-evaluate their relationship with the world and their community.

It is an object and material culture-centric approach to understanding society and the environment.

In ethnographic research, documentation aims to capture, describe and create as thorough a record as possible of a (material) knowledge system and/or section of society. The knowledge should be contextualised through the thought systems of the source community and embedded in the lived experiences of peoples and cultures. It is about creating a detailed picture of an object, practice, (community) life etc. as the source community sees it and minimising your interpretation and influence as the observer. Moreover, if a third party were to view your record, they should be able to understand how parts of the knowledge system articulate with each other and with other knowledge systems and epistemologies of that (or other) cultures.

Documentaries, on the other hand, can be a rather stylised view of the knowledge system and their first priority is to appeal to the viewer (rather than creating a thorough record). Although you need to know the process of making when conducting documentation just like with documentaries, documentaries are much more scripted and have a “story” in mind while documentation should be more matter-of-fact.

The main objective of EMKP is to record endangered material practices. As such, we will not fund projects whose main objective is the digitisation of existing images, collections, or objects. However, these can form part of a project, as for example creating a 3D model of an object produced during the study of the material practice or available in a museum collection. Funding opportunities to record and digitise archives and collections in danger can be found with Arcadia’s related programmes. These are the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme and the UCLA library’s Modern Endangered Archives Programme.

We do not specifically fund the recording of endangered languages but acknowledge that language forms part of material knowledge and how “things” or objects are referred to and talked about. Projects that include an element of language recording are eligible, but the primary goal of the project must be around the documentation of material practices. The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme provides funding for projects concerned with preserving languages.

We will also not fund projects that have the production of tv-style documentaries as their sole objective (see above). As a documentation programme we would like to see detailed footage, records, recordings, and data through which the knowledge system can be reconstructed as comprehensively as possible. You are welcome to make documentaries with the videos you record, since the material will be under a Creative Commons licence, and we will be more than happy to accept them into our repository, but a documentary should not be your priority when completing the project.

We expect that a project would use up-to-date digital recording techniques to produce a holistic documentation of the material knowledge system. This includes video, photographs, audio recordings, and any other recordings that are the most suitable for your methodology and the material practice. This can include, but is not limited to, spatial data, 3D, 360 degree video etc. EMKP offers training and support in learning these skills; we do not assume specialist prior knowledge

EMKP follows Arcadia’s Open access policy, which can be found here. Our guiding phrase is “As open as possible, as closed as needed.” We believe that any knowledge and skill that is culturally acceptable to share should be shared, and that the records and documents in our repository should not be commercialised.

Be aware that once you submit your records and documentation to us that the material will be uploaded into the EMKP repository and people will be able to download, copy and modify the files as they wish, but they will not be allowed to commercialise them. They will have to acknowledge the creators and keep copies and modifications under the same Creative Commons licence as the original file.

It will, however, be possible to restrict access to certains records should they contain legally, culturally and personally sensitive material. It will also be possible to embargo records, meaning they will only become available to the public after a certain period has elapsed. This can only occur in exceptional circumstances.


No, the application has to be completed in English.

No geographical area is excluded, though preference will be given to projects located in countries where little funding infrastructure is available.

Organisations as such cannot apply. For accountability purposes, we require one lead applicant and there is an option to add up to three collaborators who can have different levels of responsibilities.

Applicants are required to be affiliated with an institution that can provide financial and ethical oversight. That means that the institution should be able to oversee accounts, take receipt of and manage funds, and provide expenditure reports independently of the applicant. It also has to have  set ethics guidelines. You do not need to be affiliated with an academic institution; NGOs and social enterprises can act as institutions. It helps if your institution can demonstrate a track record of managing previous grants.

If your host institution does not have set ethics guidelines, it can agree in the support letter to adopt and follow a widely accepted standard, such as that of the Association of Social Anthropologists. Make sure the support letter includes the copy of the ethics guidelines you will be required to follow.

EMKP cannot cover institutional overheads, contract work or researcher salary, aside from costs associated with research assistant salaries. Collaborators are generally not paid from the grant. In certain circumstances, source community-based collaborators (see above) can be remunerated for their work, however, a clear motivation needs to be given within the ‘Budget and Equipment’ section of the application form.

Due to the spread and unpredictability of Covid-19 we expect you to assess the risk your project might pose to the team and the community, and take into account the precautions you might be expected to take during the project. This can include self-isolation, physical distancing, use of gloves, masks etc. At the same time think about your methodology and what might or might not be acceptable or doable. Write as if Covid-19 will continue to be a major concern at the start of the project and as if governments/institution restrictions apply as at the time of application.

A collaborator is somebody who has a defined role and will take on a degree of responsibility for the project, has specific skills that the project requires, oversees certain aspects of it, and contributes to the delivery of assets. Please make clear the role and skills of each collaborator within the project. A research assistant does not share that level of responsibility.

An individual file can be up to 400mb large and the total size of files per submission cannot exceed 800mb. Size will rarely be an issue. Please check that the file format you are trying to upload is listed among the ‘Acceptable file types’, usually located just above the ‘Choose files’ button.

Normally, when you submit, you should see the successful submission page and receive an email notification of your submission. If nothing happens when you press submit, please check the date format on the ‘Start and End date’ questions. The correct format should be MM/DD/YYYY. This is the most common problem. 

If the format is correct and you continue to experience the problem please contact support(at)submittable.com with information about where you are applying to, the name and ID number of your application and the username of your account. Submittable will be able to help you.

Yes, you can modify the application even after you submitted but before the deadline has passed. Please email us at emkp(at)britishmuseum.org and we can open your application for editing. Please remember to re-submit before the deadline passes.

Yes. You can download a copy of your submission by signing into your account and selecting the title of the submission. You will then be able to select a blue ‘download’ button from the upper right-hand side of the submission, initiating a download of a PDF copy.

Please note that documents and tables submitted as part of the application will only appear as a list or images.