Simon Popple


I am the academic lead for the Digital Creativity and Cultures Hub (DCCH) at the University of Leeds and Senior Lecturer in Photography and Digital Culture.  I have a background in archival research focussed on media histories and particular specialisms in early cinema and photographic history. Over time my focus has developed to explore how digital historical and archival sources can be used  to allow communities and organisations to develop collaborative practices to facilitate storytelling, campaigning, and support social advocacy. I am primarily concerned with the relationships between individuals, communities, institutions and concepts of democratic exchange, open space, and digital ontologies. The research centres on the application of digital humanities methods and their translation for use in a range of academic and community-based contexts. 

I have worked with a range of organisations including BBC Archives, the Science Museum, British Film Institute, commercial partners, cultural heritage institutions, and community groups. I am focussed on the potential of digital methods and resources to open institutional and archival resources to foster co-production and creative experimentation. I have undertaken a range of funded research in support of these themes including:

AHRC: 2019-20. Co-Investigator.  XR Stories Theme: Bradford Stories

AHRC: 2017-18. Principal Investigator: AH/P005918/1 Digital Community Workspaces: Delivering Impact through Public Library and Archive networks

AHRC: 2017-2019. Co-Investigator: AHRC Network: Language and Nature: Sustaining Biocultural Diversity across the Red Sea into the Arabian Gulf

AHRC: 2017. Co-Investigator: AH/P005268/1Using Digital Tools to Challenge Xenophobia and Support International Development in South Africa

NERC: 2017. Co-Investigator: NE/PO15964/1 Seismic Cities 

AHRC: 2016-2017. Co-Investigator: AHRC AH/N001966/1 Digital Tools in the Service of Difficult Heritage: How Recent Research Can Benefit Museums and their Audiences.

ESRC: 2014-2015. Principal Investigator: Island Stories: Growing Digital Heritage – Pilot Project for Sustainable Society Network+

AHRC: 2013-2015. Principal Investigator: Pararchive: Open Access Community Storytelling and the Digital Archive – (AH/L007800/1) Connected Communities Project funded under Digital Transformations in Community Research Co-Production in the Arts and Humanities

 AHRC: 2014. Co-Investigator: Experiencing the Digital World: The Cultural Value of Digital Engagement with Heritage – (AH/L014424/1)

 AHRC: 2009. Principal Investigator: Open Archive: The Miners' Strike: A Case Study in Regional Context – (AH/H500030/1) Research Grant and follow-on







  • Academic Lead Digital Creativity and Cultures Hub
  • Senior Lecturer in Photography and Digital Culture

Research interests


 I have broad interests in media history, archival practices, digital humanities, and co-production. My current research is concerned the use and translation of digital methods and data within the cultural heritage sector and in the role of digital storytelling and virtual environments in the charity sector.

I am currently engaged in two funded pieces of research:

AHRC/UKRI: 2021-2024 Towards a National Collection (TaNC): The Congruence Engine: Digital Tools for New Collections-Based Industrial Histories as Co-Investigator 

This project in part of the wider UKRI Towards a National Collection theme and examines the potential of machine learning as a means of unifying and making visible national collections of science and technology. See:

The second project is in conjunction with Martin House Children’s Hospice and examines the potential of digital storytelling, archives, and virtual environments in support of capital fundraising for the charity. HEIF:2023 Martin House Children’s Hospice Discovery Project as Principal Investigator. 

I am also researching for a forthcoming book that will be entitled Restaging Afghanistan: Photography, Imperialism and Post Photographies. This project combines historical readings of the imperial and post imperial archive of western engagement in Afghanistan with notions of post photographies, generative AI practices and ontological futures.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MA by research in British Documentary Film and state sponsored commercial film at Leeds University
  • BA (Hons) English and History

Student education

I teach and supervise across a range of subjects including photographic history, critical theory, archives and community partnerships, film and digital cultures.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>