Paul Basu

  • MSc, PhD
  • Honorary Professor
  • Member of Council and Chair of Education Commitee, Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Material Culture, World Art
  • Series Editor, Routledge Studies in Culture and Development

Research Interests

  • Anthropological perspectives on cultural heritage and memory
  • Anthropology and archaeology of landscape
  • Spatial history, spatial practice, ‘sites of memory’
  • Museum anthropology, history of ethnographic collecting and display
  • Exhibition practice, visual anthropology, multimedia installation
  • Museums and development, cultural heritage and civil society strengthening
  • Colonial and postcolonial heritage ideology and legislation
  • Material culture and migration, homelands and the diasporic imagination
  • Regional expertise: West Africa (especially Sierra Leone), Scotland and the Scottish diaspora

Research Directory Records

Current & Recent Projects

  • Lead Consultant, Review of Heritage Legislation in Sierra Leone, Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs & Monuments and Relics Commission, Sierra Leone. Read more»
  • Leverhulme Research Fellow, 2014-15 - 'Reassembling N.W. Thomas's Anthropological Mission to Sierra Leone, 1914-15'
  • British Academy Mid-Career Fellow, 2013-14 - 'Archives, Histories, Landscapes: Surveying Sierra Leone's Cultural Memoryscape'. Read more»
  • Co-Investigator, AHRC-funded 'Utopian Archives: Excavating Pasts for Postcolonial Futures' Research Network.
  • Core participant, AHRC-funded 'Museum Ethics' Research Network.
  • Curator, Sowei mask: spirit of Sierra Leone - Asahi Shimbun Objects in Focus display at the British Museum. Collaboration with the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Exhibition and associated events programme, 2013.
  • Palimpsest Memoryscapes - a book project exploring the multiple 'regimes of memory' that coexist in the Sierra Leonean cultural landscape.
  • Critical Conversations in Culture and Development workshop series - collaboration with the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (the first workshop, Museums, Heritage and International Development, took place at the Tropenmuseum in 2011).
  • Reanimating Cultural Heritage: digital repatriation, knowledge networks and civil society strengthening in post-conflict Sierra Leone – 3 year project funded under the AHRC’s Beyond Text programme. Partners include the British Museum, British Library Sound Archive, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Glasgow Museums, World Museum Liverpool, the National Museum of Sierra Leone, and University of Sussex Informatics Department. A major output of the project is the digital heritage resource www.sierraleoneheritage.org.
  • British Museum Africa Programme - lead consultant on capacity building at Sierra Leone National Museum since 2007.
  • Object Diasporas, Resourcing Communities – British Academy funded survey of Sierra Leonean collections in the global museumscape.
  • Heritage Laws, Colonial Legacies – comparative history and study of heritage legislation in British Commonwealth states.
  • Discovering Anthropology through Museum Collections – museum learning resource, partners include Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, C-SAP, the Royal Anthropological Institute, and University of Sussex Anthropology Department.

Educational Background

  • MSc: Social Anthropology, University College London
  • PhD: Anthropology, University College London

Current Students

  • Emma Ayling Participation, locality, belonging: Rethinking museum communities and community museums (second supervisor Rodney Harrison)
  • Yunci Cai Performing Cultures, Negotiating Identities: The Instrumentalisation of Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Malaysia (second supervisor Rodney Harrison)
  • Matthew Webber The instrumentalization of contemporary art in Bosnia-Hercegovina: A new public sphere? (second supervisor Rodney Harrison)
  • Constance Wyndham Heritage preservation and national reconstruction in Afghanistan post 2001 (second supervisor Michael Collins)

External Students

  • Ólöf Gerður Sigfúsdóttir Revealing research: Museum practice as epistemic work (University of Iceland, principal supervisor Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson)

Recent Students

  • Dr John Manley The material culture of Roman colonisation: Anthropological approaches to archaeological interpretation (awarded 2011)
  • Dr Julie Shackelford Heritage matters: Understanding value in crisis Syria (awarded 2014)
  • Colin Sterling In culture's shadows: The role of photography in the social construction of heritage sites (principal supervisor Beverley Butler)
  • Dr Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp Encounters of culture, heritage and development in Sierra Leone: An ethnography of global connection (awarded 2013)

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