Amgueddfa Blog: Casgliadau ac Ymchwil

The next steps in a Professional Training Year

It’s been a little while since my last blog post and since then there has been a lot of exciting things happening! The scientific paper I have been working on that describes a new species of marine shovelhead worm (Magelonidae) with my training year supervisor Katie Mortimer-Jones and American colleague James Blake is finished and has been submitted for publication in a scientific journal. The opportunity to become a published author is not something I expected coming into this placement and I cannot believe how lucky I am to soon have a published paper while I am still an undergraduate.

There are thousands of scientific journals out there, all specialising in different areas. Ours will be going in the capstone edition of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a journal which covers systematics in biological sciences, so perfect for our paper. Every journal has its own specifications to abide by in order to be published in them. These rules cover everything from the way you cite and reference other papers, how headings and subheadings are set out, the font style and size, and how large images should be. A significant part of writing a paper that many people might not consider is ensuring you follow the specifications of the journal. It’s very easy to forget or just write in the style you always have!

Once you have checked and doubled checked your paper and have submitted  to the journal you wish to be published in, the process of peer reviewing begins. This is where your paper is given to other scientists, typically 2 or 3, that are specialists in the field. These peer-reviewers read through your paper and determine if what you have written has good, meaningful science in it and is notable enough to be published. They also act as extra proof-readers, finding mistakes you may have missed and suggesting altered phrasing to make things easier to understand.

I must admit it is a little nerve wracking to know that peer reviewers have the option to reject all your hard work if they don’t think it is good enough. However, the two reviewers have been nothing but kind and exceptionally helpful. They have both accepted our paper for publication. Having fresh sets of eyes look at your work is always better at finding mistakes than just reading it over and over again, especially if those eyes are specialists in the field that you are writing in.

As you would expect, the process of peer-reviewing takes some time. So, while we have been waiting for the reviews to come back, I have already made great progress on starting a second scientific paper based around marine shovelhead worms with my supervisor. While the story of the paper isn’t far along enough yet to talk about here, I can talk about the fantastic opportunity I had to visit the Natural History Museum, London!

We are currently investigating a potentially new European species of shovelhead worm which is similar to a UK species described by an Amgueddfa Cymru scientist and German colleagues. Most of the type specimens of the latter species are held at the Natural History Museum in London. Type material is scientifically priceless, they are the individual specimens from which a new species is first described and given a scientific name. Therefore, they are the first port of call, if we want to determine if our specimens are a new species or not.

The volume of material that the London Natural History Museum possesses of the species we are interested in is very large and we had no idea what we wanted to loan from them. So, in order to make sure we requested the most useful specimens for our paper, we travelled to London to look through all of the specimens there. We were kindly showed around the facilities by one of the museum’s curators and allowed to make use of one of the labs in order to view all of the specimens. The trip was certainly worth it. We took a lot of notes and found out some very interesting things, but most importantly we had a clear idea of the specific specimens that we wanted to borrow to take photos of and analyse closer back in Cardiff. 

Overall, I can say with confidence that the long drive was certainly more than worth it! I’m very excited to continue with this new paper and even more excited to soon be able to share the results of our first completed and published paper, watch this space…

Thank you once again to both National Museum Cardiff and Natural History Museum, London for making this trip possible.

Fel rhan o'n dathliadau PRIDE Abertawe eleni, byddwn yn ymchwilio i hanes hynod ddiddorol yr awdur a'r diwydiannwr llwyddiannus, Amy Dillwyn, ac yn cyflwyno darn perfformio am ei bywyd ar 16eg Gorffennaf. Dyma'r Athro Kirsti Bohata o Brifysgol Abertawe i ddweud mwy wrthym amdani. I ddarganfod mwy am hyn a'n holl ddigwyddiadau PRIDE Abertawe, ewch i amgueddfa.wales

Roedd Amy Dillwyn yn berson arloesol. A dyna, oedd ei llysenw ymhlith ffrindiau: ‘The Pioneer’. Yn awdur, yn ymgyrchydd ffeministaidd ac yn ddiwydiannwr llwyddiannus (peth prin iawn i fenyw yn yr 1890au) gwnaeth y gorau o'i llwyfan cyhoeddus i eiriol dros hawliau menywod. Trwy ei hysgrifennu a'i phersona cyhoeddus, dangosodd y gallai menywod fod yn wydn, yn anturus ac yn glyfar. Gwrthododd normau benywaidd, gan osgoi unrhyw ddiddordeb yn ffriliau cyfyngol ffasiwn menywod (heblaw am daflu llygad gwerthfawrogol dros y ffurf fenywaidd). Yn lle hynny fe feithrinodd hunaniaeth rhyw cwiar (yn ei dyddiaduron roedd hi unwaith yn meddwl tybed a allai fod yn ‘hanner dyn’) a daeth ei het Trilby, esgidiau trwchus, sgert ymarferol a’i ‘sigar dyn’ yn symbolau eiconig o’i honiad i ymreolaeth.

Portread o Amy Dillwyn. Delwedd trwy garedigrwydd teulu Morris

Er iddi ddisgrifio'i hun fel 'dyn busnes', a dal rolau cyhoeddus amlwg gan gynnwys Cadeirydd Bwrdd yr Ysbyty, canfu fod ei mynediad i ganolfannau pŵer economaidd (fel Ymddiriedolaeth Harbwr Abertawe) wedi'i gwahardd gan y rhai a oedd yn gwrthwynebu ei rhyw ac, mae un yn amau, y rhai a oedd wedi derbyn ei siarad plaen. Ni ddioddefodd ffyliaid. Fe ddadnoethodd rhagrith, aneffeithlonrwydd ac anghymhwysedd ymhlith y pwyllgorau dynion y bu’n gwasanaethu arnynt gan ennill ei pharch mewn rhai chwarteri ond yn anochel gwnaeth elynion mewn eraill. Cafodd ei herlid o Fwrdd yr Ysbyty yn union wedi iddi godi'r arian ar gyfer ysbyty ymadfer newydd, mater a gafodd ergyd drafodaeth fanwl dros gyfnod yn y wasg.

Fel ymgyrchydd ffeministaidd, nid oedd ganddi ddiddordeb mewn ennill y bleidlais drosti ei hun yn unig - er iddi roi’n hael i Gynghrair Rhyddid Menywod militant a dod yn llywydd cangen Abertawe o National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) - siaradodd o blaid cyflog teg ac amodau ar gyfer menywod dosbarth gweithiol. Ym mis Mawrth 1911 rhannodd blatfform gyda’r undebwyr llafur Mary MacArthur (1880-1921) a Margaret Bondfield (1873-1953), a ddaeth yn AS Llafur yn ddiweddarach, mewn protest yn erbyn ‘llafur caeth’. I gynulleidfa o winaduresau trawiadol a'r cyhoedd, dadleuodd Dillwyn 'Nid oes gan gyflogwyr hawl i ... falu [pobl dlawd] i gymryd cyflogau annheg neu i wneud iddynt dderbyn amodau llafur annheg' a galwodd ar Abertawe i foicotio'r siop, Ben Evans. Trafodwyd yr ymgyrch (a amlygodd arferion anghyfreithlon yn ogystal ag anfoesegol) yn Nhŷ’r Cyffredin.

Er ei bod hi'n arloesi fel diwydiannwr a menyw eiconoclastig a wrthododd gael ei hymddygiad (neu wisgo) yn ôl confensiwn Fictoraidd, etifeddiaeth fwyaf parhaol Dillwyn yw ei ffuglen a'i phwysigrwydd i hanes llenyddol lesbiaidd. Yn fywiog, yn ffeministaidd ac yn dwyn cyffyrddiadau aml o'i hiwmor sych, mae nofelau Dillwyn yn dychanu rhagrith ei dosbarth ei hun ac mae'n ysgrifennu am anghyfiawnder cymdeithasol o safbwynt y dosbarthiadau llafur. Ei thema barhaus, fodd bynnag, yw cariad ac awydd o'r un rhyw. Weithiau mae hyn yn agored: yn A Burglary (1883) a Jill (1884) mae merch ifanc yn datblygu ‘diddordeb rhyfedd’ ac atyniad i fenyw ychydig yn hŷn (ac yn gyfoethocach). Weithiau mae ei phlotiau'n fwy dichell, yn aml yn cynnwys cuddwisg neu drawswisgo: yn The Rebecca Rioter mae dyn dosbarth gweithiol (wedi'i seilio'n rhannol ar Dillwyn ei hun) yn cwympo mewn cariad â dynes dosbarth uwch (tra hefyd yn ffansio dyn arall!) sy'n awgrymu pob math o ddarlleniadau queer, traws a deurywiol.

Olive Talbot a'i thad C. R. M Talbot o Gastell Margam. O gasgliad Amgueddfa Cymru

Gellir olrhain y pwnc dychweliadol o fenywod sy'n caru menywod, a'i diddordeb mewn cariad diwobrwy rhwng pob math o bobl, i fywyd a phrofiad Dillwyn ei hun o serch. Yn 15 oed, syrthiodd Amy Dillwyn mewn cariad â Olive Talbot (1843-1894), merch miliwnydd lleol, C. R. M Talbot o Gastell Margam. Roedd Amy ac Olive yn ffrindiau agos, yn cyfnewid anrhegion, ac yn aros gyda'i gilydd mewn amryw o dai a chyrchfannau gwyliau. Er bod Amy yn galaru na atebwyd ei chariad ‘rhamantus… angerddol… ffôl’ tuag at Olive ond unrhywbeth ond anwyldeb ‘cyffredin’, erbyn 1872 roedd Dillwyn yn cyfeiro at Olive yn ei dyddiaduron fel ‘fy ngwraig’. Parhaodd Olive yn ganolbwynt byd emosiynol ac erotig Amy am y 15 mlynedd nesaf o leiaf (fel y manylir yn ei dyddiaduron unigryw sydd yn anffodus yn dod i ben ym 1875 pan gafodd Dillwyn lawdriniaeth), ac yn ôl pob tebyg yn llawer hirach, os yw tystiolaeth ei nofelau (a gyhoeddwyd yn ystod yr 1880au), yn cael ei ystyried.

Er nad ydym yn gwybod yn union sut y gwnaeth eu perthynas ddatblygu neu ddirwyn i ben - treuliodd Olive flynyddoedd olaf ei bywyd byr yn Llundain tra roedd Dillwyn yn lled-afiach yn Abertawe - mae etifeddiaeth cariad Dillwyn a'i archwiliad creadigol o awydd o'r un rhyw yn gwneud cyfraniad rhyfeddol at lenyddiaeth Fictoraidd queer. Mae ei nofelau, ynghyd â’i dyddiaduron eithriadol o onest (a gedwir ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe ac sy’n cael eu golygu i’w cyhoeddi ar hyn o bryd), yn cynnig mewnwelediad cymhellol i fywyd queer yng Nghymru’r bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg.

Am rhagor o wybodaeth am Amy Dillwyn ymwelwch â Geiriadur Bywgraffiad Cymru: https://biography.wales/article/s12-DILL-AMY-1845

Mae ffotograffau o Olive Talbot wedi'u cynnwys mewn casgliad o ffotograffau gan John Dillwyn Llewelyn, sy'n rhan o gasgliad Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru. Mae Mark Etheridge, Curadur NMGW: Diwydiant a Thrafnidiaeth, yn rhoi cyflwyniad i'r casgliad yma: John Dillwyn Llewelyn - Ffotograffydd Arloesi Cymru | Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru

Gallwch gyrchu hwn a chasgliadau ffotograffig eraill sydd dan ein gofal yma: Casgliadau Ffotograffig | Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru


[1] LINC I: https://newspapers.library.wales/view/4145559/4145562/86/miss%20dillwyn%20hospital%20board

[1] LINC I: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z9E_v2wfns

[1] LINC I : https://muse.jhu.edu/article/726578

[1] LINC I: https://www.honno.co.uk/authors/d/dillwyn-amy/

 

لو  كنتُ في سجن حقيقي.. وكان هناك خمسون سجين سيكون عندي مالايقل عن خمسة أصدقاء… ولكن أنظري الى حالتي هنا… لايوجد أحد حولي…

If I was in a real prison… say there are fifty prisoners in one room, you would at least make friends with five of them… But here, look at my situation. There is no one around.

Salih, Cardiff, 2020

Dyfyniad byr gan Salih, ffoadur o Syria yng Nghaerdydd. Hawlfraint: Prifysgol Caerdydd/Amgueddfa Cymru 


Towards the end of 2019, I began working as a Research Associate at the AHRC funded project “Refugee Wales: The Aftermath of Violence”. The project is a partnership between Cardiff University and Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales. Its aim is to record the stories of refugees in Wales, inform Welsh government of what we’ve learnt from them, and archive them as part of the national collections. My role is to record interviews with Syrian refugees who have settled in Wales since 2011.

I am an Arabic-speaking Iraqi and new to Wales myself, so my first challenge was finding willing participants from the Syrian community. Once I had been introduced via a gatekeeper, I started meeting potential participants to gain their trust and confidence and to explain the project further. Establishing a relationship of trust with people whose lives have been in turmoil is not straightforward. My days were ebbing and flowing between positive and negative responses, encouraging and disappointing reactions, scheduling and rescheduling of appointments, rejections and last-minute cancellations. I succeeded in completing my first interviews in February 2020 and had others planned. Then came the COVID-19 lockdown on 23rd March. 

When it became obvious that this situation would last some time, we decided reluctantly to experiment with remote interviewing. One of our team, Beth Thomas, is an OHS trainer who advised us, after discussion with her colleagues, on the options available. Our choice of method was decided on the following principle: that it should be as simple and secure as possible for the interviewees. We used a mobile phone connected to one channel of a Zoom H5 recorder, with the other channel recording the interviewer via a clip-on mike.

It seemed straightforward. Nevertheless, I struggled with the number of wired connections. I experimented with family and friends.  I wondered what kind of interview it would be if I was unable to see my participants. I also wondered how my interviewees would feel about not seeing me. How could I expect the participants to be at ease telling their life stories to someone they are unable to see?

The other option was to connect the Zoom H5 in the same way to the audio output of a computer, to record the audio only of a Zoom video interview. This made more sense to me as it would enable me and the interviewees to see one another. However, most of my participants were unhappy with this option because they either didn’t have a computer, had no access to Zoom, or they had problems with WiFi. 

It quickly became clear that almost all my participants were happier using WhatsApp on their smartphones, as this was how they normally connected with their families overseas. WhatsApp allowed us to conduct video interviews while recording audio locally on the Zoom H5, using the same setup as before. The only drawback was bandwidth and WiFi reception. I had some remote WhatsApp interviews which went well, with reasonable sound quality, and a disastrous one because I was unaware of how bad the WiFi was at the interviewee’s end. Other challenges ranged from dealing with the noise of children at the interviewee’s house, street noise, postmen and deliveries at my door or their door, my next-door neighbour’s loud music and my smoke alarm going off whenever my daughter burnt her eggs! 

In some ways, the pandemic strangely helped strengthen my relationship with interviewees. I have even developed strong bonds with some of my participants which transcended social distancing rules and highlighted our common vulnerability as human beings. They were more than mere research subjects but persons who need to be listened to and be supported in a very difficult stage of their resettlement. However, that involvement occasionally made it difficult to draw the line between supporting others and protecting yourself.

Salih was introduced to me as a Syrian refugee who met my requirements for project participants. All I knew about Salih was that he was a Syrian-Kurd who was resettled in Cardiff a few months before the first lockdown. I introduced myself over the phone and asked if he was interested in an initial remote meeting. Salih interrupted me saying: “I wish you could visit me and my wife in our house. I am in a wheelchair and my wife has some health problems. We only have one person who comes to check on us and brings us groceries… When our Home Office Caseworker comes for a visit, he talks to us through the living room window, hands us documents to sign, asks a couple of questions and leaves… We barely talk to people.” He became very emotional and asked me to help him reunite with the rest of his family who had been relocated in Germany. I explained to Salih that I was a researcher with no hand in policy making. Despite this, he was determined to be part of the project and have his voice heard.  

The phone call upset me. My inability to improve his situation made me ashamed of asking someone like Salih, who was painfully lonely, to narrate his personal story of suffering and survival remotely. Next morning, I called Salih and asked if he and his wife were happy for me to visit them wearing a facemask and maintaining social distance. We agreed to meet the following day. 

After taking all the necessary precautions; wipes, a facemask, Covid-19 declaration forms etc. I went to Salih’s house.  Salih opened the door while leaning on his walking frames. He greeted me in his Arabic-Kurdish accent and led me into a dark first -floor flat, with one small window being their opening to the outside world. Salih’s wife sat on a small mattress on the floor. She had hardly any Arabic but could understand some of what I was saying as I saw her nodding at times. She made us a tasty Syrian coffee and uttered few words in Kurdish which Salih translated to me as: “I am so pleased to have a guest for whom I can offer coffee again as I used to!”

It was a short, emotional and tiring interview. I have kept in touch with them and have promised to revisit once lockdown is lifted. But I feel heavily burdened with helplessness, sorrow, and anger at their situation. 

We are talking through virtual windows, barely touching the lives of those beyond the pane.

I can trace the origin of this project, Refugee Wales, to 2009 when the civil war in Sri Lanka came to a bloody end when the government forces defeated the LTTE (Tamil Tigers).  The stories of the immense suffering of the Sri Lankan Tamil civilians flooded the media and, then, these stories disappeared.  Being an Indian Tamil myself, I followed the news of the final days of the civil war obsessively as these were narratives of my “cousins” in South Asia, and we were linked by language, culture, religion, food habits, mythology, families, and  with a commonality of memories and practices.  It is estimated that between 100,000-200,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in the UK, with a large number of them arriving as refugees from 1983 onwards.  The civil war in Sri Lanka lasted, off and on, for over 5 decades and Sri Lankan refugees who arrived in this country have lived here for more  than 2 generations.  

No sooner had the Sri Lankan civil war ended, then the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and it is still ongoing. The war has currently resulted in over 13 million Syrians who have been either internally displaced within Syria, or in neighbouring countries, or in Europe and the rest of the world.  Germany has over 800,000 Syrian refugees and the UK, a paltry 18,000-20,000 of them in 2021. The body count of Syrians who have died in this exodus is still not fully accounted for and the bottom of the Mediterranean sea, which is considered to be the deadliest migration route for refugees, has become a graveyard for them.  

Neither the Sri Lankan Tamil nor the Syrian refugees sought refuge in the UK so they could shop in Tesco and take jobs away from the locals.  They left their countries under desperate circumstances—the daily bombings, the kidnapping of children (and youth) by rebel soldiers forcing them into becoming child soldiers, the rape of women and children, the loss of jobs, homes, family members—spouses, children, parents, siblings--the lack of food, safety, and a full night’s sleep; it was the precarity of life.  

In Homo Sacer, the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben points to the distinction made by the Ancient Greeks between bios (the form or manner in which life is lived and which assesses the richness of life) and zoë (the biological fact of life) and suggests that in contemporary life that distinction has collapsed.  So, life now only means bare life, zoë.  The biological fact of life with all its potentialities and possibilities has been erased.  For the French philosopher Michel Foucault, modern power is about “fostering life or disallowing it.”  This is how civilian populations in Sri Lanka and Syria were perceived by their governments—a full life disallowed for some of its citizens so that they are reduced to a bare life, their only possibility being to flee.  This is how refugees are perceived in the current political climate with hostile environment policies, to be seen as only deserving of a bare life, to show how unwelcome they are.  

If by moving away from their country results in a total and complete break from their past lives for the refugees, a rupture from their histories and cultures, what this project hopes to achieve is to allow refugees to connect their past to their present, give them a voice, and a sense of belonging and that people are, indeed, witnessing their trials.  The Museum with the richness of cultural life that it offers, through its resources, will assist in enabling refugees to become citizens of Wales, and help them to transform their lives in the country that is now their home; it will facilitate and contribute to them leading their lives into the fullest of its potentialities and possibilities.  

And those of us who already live in Wales, how will these newcomers change our lives? By hearing their stories, we, too, will reach further into our potentiality, of the richness of diversity, compassion, being good hosts and helping them go through their transformation and, in so doing, initiate new ways of being and becoming Welsh.

Over the past year, we have all had to stay closer to home more often. We may have discovered new local places, and started to look in more detail at familiar places. The museum has launched a new set of web-based resources to help people continue this exploration. The new On Your Doorstep webpages help and encourage others to discover local archaeology and nature in Wales. We’ve included activities for investigating and learning more, in the countryside and urban areas. If you want to delve even deeper, you can explore our natural history and archaeology collections of over 4 million specimens, and find links to our specialist sites.

Visit: museum.wales/collections/on-your-doorstep  

Nature Bingo

Have a go at spotting everything on our nature bingo cards. Cards for spring and summer are available now, as well as cards with more abstract terms such as ‘hooked’, ‘shiny’ and ‘slow’ to challenge you to look more closely at nature when you are out and about. Get out there and start ticking them off! Who can get a full house first? You can improve your Welsh at the same time by using both English and Welsh versions together as well as the handy hints for learners.  

Spotter’s Sheets

The spotter’s sheets in Welsh and English are there to help you to recognise more of the natural world and the archaeology on your doorstep. Use our downloadable spotter’s sheets to identify animals, plants, fossils, rocks and artefacts. They can be used as an introduction to a particular theme, to remind you of helpful identification characteristics, or to learn interesting facts about ordinary things around us in Wales.

Guides…to animals and plants

Visit the nature spotters guides webpage

  • Garden Pond Snails. Are there snails in your pond, if so what are they?
  • Hitchhikers on Ocean Plastics. Some sea creatures use floating plastic, or other waste, to travel around the world. Get in touch with us if you find any in Wales.
  • Brown Seaweeds. Brown seaweeds are often the most obvious living things on a rocky shore. Learn about a few selected seaweeds to get you started on the 120 you can find in Wales!
  • Red & Green Seaweeds. When you’re next on a rocky shore, try looking for these red and green seaweeds which are common features of rock pools.

Guides…to geology

Visit the nature spotter's guide webpage.

  • Have I Found a Fossil? Use this guide if you are unsure whether the object you have found is a fossil or not.
  • The Main Fossil Groups. Working out which group your fossil belongs to will give you an idea of how old it is and tell you something about the habitat where it lived, millions of years ago.
  • Penarth Fossils. Search the beach for loose fossils at Penarth and use this guide to work out what you have found.
  • Building Stones of National Museum Cardiff. Look at geology in an urban environment, and learn more about the stones used to build National Museum Cardiff.

Guides…to archaeology

Visit the discovering archaeology webpage.

  • Recognising Prehistoric stone tools. This guide helps to work out if a stone you’ve found is natural or if it has been shaped by a person in the past. 
  • Housing in Wales before 1000 BCE. Today’s houses are a recent innovation. Find out what type of houses were common just a few thousand years ago.
  • Making axes at the end of the Stone Age. People started making polished stone axes around 4000 BCE and used them to chop down trees, impress neighbours, or beat up enemies. But where do you go to find the right rocks to make an axe in Wales?

Get involved!

You can share archaeological finds with us on Twitter via @SF_Archaeology, and natural history finds via @CardiffCurator.

We currently have a project looking at new animals rafting across seas and oceans to Wales on plastics, so we really want to hear from you. Tell us if there are any other spotter’s sheets you’d like us to make. And if you complete any of our nature bingo cards, feel free to boast on social media by sharing your nature photos with us! To let us know about more sensitive things such as dinosaur footprints or rare plants, or for more help, please get in touch with our Museum Scientists.

Look out for more activities and features appearing on the ‘On Your Doorstep’ webpages through the year and keep an eye out for more archaeology which will launch fully for the 2021 Festival of Archaeology during July.