Emeritus Professor Peter Davis has research interests in natural history museums, the history of natural history and biography of key 19th century collectors. Much of this work is related to analyzing the emergence of the conservation ethic, and the roles that museums have played in fostering it; his research on museums, botanic gardens, aquaria and zoos is primarily related to the ways in which these organisations played a role in the emergence of environmentalism, and his book 'Museums and the Natural Environment' (1996) discusses this phenomenon.
His biographical research has focused on important scientists and collectors, and he has written several entries for the new Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press), and for The Dictionary of 19th Century Scientists (Thoemmes Press/Continuum). He continues to research the life and work of the naturalist George Johnston (1797 - 1855), a doctor who did much to further the progess of natural history and museology; this work complements his co-authored book on Sir William Jardine (published 2001), a contemporary and friend of Johnston. This work is a continuation of his in-depth research into collectors and naturalists in northern England.
Community museology and new museology, and one type of museum - the ecomuseum - form a third major research interest. His book, 'Ecomuseums, a sense of place' (1999), was the first book in English to document this global museological phenomenon from French, Spanish and Portuguese sources, so making the concepts and ideologies of ecomuseums more widely available. Peter has published extensively on ecomuseum theory and practice since 1999, particularly in relation to developments in Italy, Japan and China. A second edition of 'Ecomuseums', a complete revision of the worldwide situation, was published by Continuum in 2011.
He is closely involved in the development of Heritage Matters as a Series Editor; these books (based in ICCHS and published by Boydell and Brewer) cover a range of heritage issue. Peter has co-edited two volumes, namely Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (2012) and Making Sense of Place (2012). He is now working on several new books in the series, including Geoheritage and Tourism; Displaced Heritage; Changing Perceptions of Nature; and an edited collection of essays by the Dutch museologist Peter Van Mensch.
Peter Davis' current research deals primarily with contemporary approaches to museology, in particular how museums deal with questions relating to communities, place and 'sense of place', local distinctiveness and cultural identity. He has a worldwide network of contacts involved in the branch of museology known as community museology or ecomuseology, and is working with colleagues in Italy, Japan, the Netherland, Brazil, India, China and Portugal to assess the impact of community-based approaches to the conservation of tangible and intangible heritage. Emerging strands within this research is the relationship between ecomuseums, the formation of capital and community sustainability and how ecomuseums can promote biocultural conservation, bridging the perceived gap between nature and culture.
The following students supervised by Peter Davis successfully completed research degrees:
He acted as secondary supervisor to the following successful doctoral students:
* Han-Yin (Elly) Huang 'Local Cultural workshops and sense of place in Taiwan' (2009)
* Michelle Stefano 'Intangible Cultural Heritages in North East England' (2010)
He is currently secondary supervisor to the following doctoral students:
* Jared David Bowers 'Ecomuseology and sustainable tourism in the Iwokrama region of Guyana'
* Justin Sikora 'Approaches to the interpretation of battlefield heritage sites'
Guest Professor of Museology, Museion, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, from July 2005 - June 2009
Fellow of the Museums Association
Fellow of the Linnean Sociey of London
Member of Council, Linnean Society of London
First President, Museums and Galleries History Group
Chairman, Natural History Society of Northumbria from 2003 - 2011
Member, Editorial Board, H-Museum
Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Tourism Anthropology
Member, Editorial Board, Museum History Journal
Member, Editorial Board, Museum Management and Curatorship