TIDE is a 5-year European Research Council funded project (2016-2021) that investigates how mobility in the great age of travel and discovery shaped English perceptions of human identity based on cultural identification and difference. 

Exploring links between different cultures, regions and identities in early modern England

TIDE’s research breaks new ground in understanding cross-cultural encounter in the early modern period from the perspective of its most involved agents. It asks the questions what it meant to be an alien, a foreigner, a stranger; how these terms – so supremely value-laden today – evolved; and how institutions of law, religion, society, and economy, and the human imagination through art and literature dealt with such figures. The role of those marked by transcultural mobility was central to this period. Trade, diplomacy and politics, religious schisms, shifts in legal systems, all attempted to control and formalise the identity of such figures. Our current world is all too familiar with the concepts that surfaced or evolved as a result: foreigners, strangers, aliens, converts, exiles, or even translators, ambassadors and go-betweens. By examining how different discourses tackled the fraught question of human identity in this era, TIDE has opened a new perspective on cross-cultural encounters. It puts pressure on our understanding of cultural difference, transculturality and identity, and generate a new understanding of key terms, concepts, and debates. It has produced new knowledge about the unique role played by literature, and even as the project has illuminated how some of our key concepts of cultural difference and identity took shape, that research has been used by writers and artists to generate new works about our encounters with those same issues today. In October 2021, it will launch its spin-out ERC-funded Proof of Concept project, TRACTION (Teaching Race, Belonging, Empire and Migration) to develop a pioneering digital platform of training, resources, and community network for schoolteachers. It will equip teachers with targeted and effective training on teaching issues of race, belonging, migration and empire.