Matthew Cole

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Matthew Cole, Lecturer in Sociology at the Open University in the UK, and his colleague Kate Stewart, principal lecturer in the school of social sciences at Nottingham University in the UK, received a grant to digitize, transcribe, edit, and analyze the unpublished personal archive of Donald Watson, co-founder of The Vegan Society in 1944. Matthew Cole writes:

Watson’s personal archive comprises several hundred letters and other documents, including observations on the history, progress and future of veganism in correspondence with and from other key figures in the vegan movement and Watson’s siblings. It also includes unpublished photographs, a handwritten ‘nature diary’ from 1929 which includes many reflections on animals, arguments against animal exploitation, and so on, variant drafts of published articles for The Vegan magazine and elsewhere, and letters to Donald Watson’s local newspaper. We already have agreed access to the archive from Donald Watson’s heir and his support for this project, including digitisation and publication, and we have already been able to view the archive in person, so we are aware of its extent and significance. Hard copies of the diverse published writings of Donald Watson are also already in our possession. These largely comprise The Vegan magazine during Watson’s tenure as editor in the 1940s, early pamphlets published by the Society, and later articles and interviews he contributed to The Vegan (notably in the late 1980s and early 2000s). Many of these publications are difficult to access and have never been compiled together.

2020 Updates:
Through receiving the 2018 grant from CAF, Matthew and his collaborator Dr Kate Stewart were able to secure two additional grants from the Open University to continue their work. They are almost finished with transcribing over 700 documents of varying lengths as well as the data cleaning process, and are getting ready to analyse the data and write a journal article with a sociological analysis of the archive, to be submitted by the end of August 2020. They still intend to make the archive available online and pursue publishing an edited collection of Donald Watson’s published and unpublished work from the archive as a book.

For Matthew, the chance to re-present the work of a key founder of the vegan movement to a public, academic and activist audience such that it establishes modern goals in the context of a long-established tradition is incredibly exciting.

Outside of CAF, he has contributed a co-written chapter (with Dr Kate Stewart) to Laura Wright’s forthcoming edited collection of essays on Vegan Studies (published by Routledge), and is working on a new undergraduate Criminology module at the Open University. He is also producing online material about vegan feminism as resistance to the intersecting harms of speciesism and patriarchy.