Professor Philip Payton

International recognition for Cornish research

An expert in Cornish Studies has been awarded the highest mark of recognition available in Australia for their research.

Professor Philip Payton, Director of Cornish Studies based at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, has been made an Honorary Fellow by the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

The decision was made at the Academy’s Annual General Meeting in November to honour the Professor of Cornish and Australian Studies; as one of the overseas academics in the humanities who has a close association with Australia. Professor Payton’s work leads the way in the study of Cornish emigration history and identity.

His work on the Cornish diaspora, especially in Australia has explored the many dimensions of Cornishness that have been translated to new lands and environments. The skills and experiences forged in Cornwall’s mines were consistently in demand following the globalisation of the hard-rock mining in the 19th century. Professor Payton’s book, Cornish Overseas: A History of Cornwall’s Great Emigration, remains the standard volume on the subject.  His most recent, Regional Australia and the Great War:‘The Boys from Old Kio’, provides an in depth examination of the wartime experiences of one Cornish emigrant community.

Professor Lesley Johnson, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, who announced the election of eight new Honorary Fellows said:“The Academy offers its warmest congratulations to its newly elected Fellows. Their election is a testament to both the excellence and influence of their scholarship, and reflects the esteem in which they are regarded in Australia and internationally.”

The accolade marks the end of Professor Payton’s 22 years working at the University of Exeter’s Institute of Cornish Studies. During which time his research in the history and politics of modern Cornwall, broadly from the late 18th to the 21st century, has seen him emerge as a leading specialist in the field.  

Speaking of his achievements, Professor Payton said:“I am extremely proud to have been awarded this prestigious honour by Australia's premier Humanities body. But, as I prepare to stand down as Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies after 22 years, I am especially delighted by what is international recognition for all we have achieved in Cornish Studies over the last two decades.”

Professor Alan Booth, who works alongside Professor Payton on the University’s Penryn Campus, said:“His work has embraced many aspects of Cornish identity, both in the UK and overseas. He is an excellent biographer, with the sensitivity to explore in depth the characters and thinking of major figures in Cornwall's cultural life. His studies of Betjeman and Rowse explore the deep and often ambivalent contributions of two very complex intellectuals in exploring Cornish culture and identity.”

Professor Payton edits the annual volume Cornish Studies, now in its twentieth year and his Maritime History of Cornwall, edited jointly with Alston Kennerley and Helen Doe is due to appear shortly. Along with producing a vast amount of other research, he is a Past President of the British-Australian Studies Association, has previously served as Visiting Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Warwick, and is Adjunct Professor of History at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.


Date: 29 November 2013

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