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Dr Sarah Byrne

Translations/Transpositions - Translation as Dissemination: museums, objects, audiences | October 2010 - September 2012 | and then to an appointemnt at the horniman Museum, London

  As a UCL Mellon Fellow, Sarah’s project engaged with the issues of translation and transposition by focusing on the concepts of practice as translation and place as transposition in terms of how museums and source communities collaborate. Most ethnographic objects have been split up, pulled apart and given new identities according to the trajectories of Western museum practice. The project assessed how reassembling ethnographic collections in relation to the social practices and places of which they were once a part can set in motion more worthwhile collaboration and at the same time more explicitly draw attention to the phases of translation these objects underwent when moving from producers and users to traders, dealers, missionaries, auctioneers, curators, and museum administrators.

Research took place on the Banks Islands, Vanuatu, focusing on the archaeological remains, museum collections and oral history relating to ‘dancing grounds’ wherein a variety of social practices took place, most notably the rank-taking ceremonies linked to the sukwe. Many of the Banks Islands objects collected by museums in the 19 th and early 20 th century are closely related to the architecture and use of these places.

By critically examining and theorising modes of engagement between communities, researchers and museum curators and by placing a particular emphasis on the relationship between oral history, intangible heritage, architecture and artefact, this research aims to have broader relevance to other types of museum collections and research.

Sarah was born in Ireland and received her BA in Archaeology and English at the National University of Ireland, Galway (1999). After her degree, she worked for a number of years on commercial and research archaeological projects in Ireland, UK, Australia and Papua New Guinea, gaining insight into the role of archaeology and heritage within different communities. In 2002, she studied the MA in Artefact Studies at UCL and worked on the Pacific collections at the Horniman Museum, London. During her doctoral research, also at UCL, she worked with the British Museum, helping co-ordinate programmes for the Melanesia Project which involved source communities visiting the collections and assessing their contemporary relevance. Since finishing her PhD, Sarah has worked in local history publishing and a number of community heritage projects. Prior to taking up this fellowship, she was leading a Heritage Lottery Funded oral history project about the working Thames.

Degrees

  • 2008: PhD in Pacific Archaeology, University College London
    Thesis: Practice-centred approach to Uneapa Island’s archaeology in a long term context.[abstract]
  • 2003: MA in Artefact Studies
    Thesis title: Animate Objects: A.C. Haddon's acquisitions from the Torres Straits and Papua New Guinea at the Horniman Museum, 1902-1915.
  • 1999: BA in Archaeology & English.
    Thesis title: Understanding Bronze Age Hoards from British and Irish rivers within a social context.

Scholarships and Awards

  • 2011 (December) Leo Fleischmann Visiting Fellowship in Pacific Islands Arts and Material Culture, Australian Museum, Sydney. .
  • 2008 School of Advanced Research Award for Anthropological Archaeology, Santa Fe
  • 2004-6 Visiting Research Fellowship at the Research School of Asian and Pacific Studies (Australian National University).
  • 2004 Emslie Horniman Scholarship (Royal Anthropological Institute).
  • Institute of Archaeology Fieldwork Grant (UCL).
  • Graduate School Fieldwork Grant (UCL).
  • Central Research Fund Fieldwork Grant (University of London).
  • Endeavour Scholarship, Department of Science and Education, (Australian Government).
  • 2004 Emslie Horniman Scholarship (Royal Anthropological Institute).
  • Institute of Archaeology Fieldwork Grant (UCL).
  • Graduate School Fieldwork Grant (UCL).
  • Central Research Fund Fieldwork Grant (University of London).
  • Endeavour Scholarship, Department of Science and Education, (Australian Government).
  • 2003 Graduate School Scholarship (UCL).Fees and maintenance for PhD.
  • 2002 English Heritage Bursary for MA. Fees and maintenance grant.

Research Interests

  • Theories of social practice
  • Relationship between archaeology and anthropology
  • Community heritage
  • Indigenous representation in museums
  • The role of oral history in museums
  • Relationship between memory and materiality
  • Digital anthropology
  • Pacific ethnographic collections
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Relationship between architecture and artefact
  • Actor-network theory

Presentations and public engagement: papers (selection)

  • The Practice and Materiality of Feasting on the Banks Islands, Vanuatu.Seminar presented at the Australian Museum, 15 December 2011.
  • Voicing the Museum Object, 4 May, 2011. At Voice in (and around) the Museum> (organised by Sarah Byrne and Antony Hudek), UCL, 4-25 May 2011.(More ...)
  • Reassembling the Collection in Relation to Practice and Place. Paper presented at and co-chaired session: Reassembling the Collection: Indigenous Agency and Ethnographic Collections at the School for Advanced Research on the Human Experience, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 26-30 September 2010.
  • Animate Objects: A.C. Haddon at the Horniman Museum 1902-1915. Paper presented at and co-chaired session Unpacking the Collection: Museums Identity and Agency, World Archaeological Congress 6, Dublin, 29 June- 4 July 2008.
  • Practice makes Perfect sense: A Social Interpretation of Uneapa Island’s monumentality, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Paper presented at the Centre of Archaeology Research (CAR) Seminar Series, Australian National University, 24th November 2006.
  • Practice makes Perfect sense: A Social Interpretation of Uneapa Island’s monumentality, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Paper presented at the Australian Museum Student Seminars, 22nd November 2006.
  • Tangible v’s Intangible Heritage- A suitable dichotomy for archaeological research on Uneapa Island? Paper presented at the 7th Cambridge Heritage Seminar: Intangible-Tangible Cultural Heritage: A Sustainable Dichotomy? McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, 13 May 2006.
  • Community Archaeology: Perspectives following research on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Handout presented (in absentia) to the WAC Second Indigenous Inter-Congress November, Auckland, 8-12 December, 2005.
  • Movement, memories and meaning: A biography of Uneapa’s monumental landscape in a post-contact context . Paper presented at Global Perspectives on the Archaeology of Islands- International Conference, Auckland, 8-11 Dec 2004.
  • Postprocessualism and monuments: Insights from recent research on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea . Paper presented at the Sydney University Archaeology Research Seminar Series, September 2004.

Editorial

2011- present: Gallery and Exhibitions Editor, The Journal of Museum Ethnography. (More ...)

Publications: articles

  • Byrne, S. (submitted 2012) 'Rock Art as Material Culture: A Case Study on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea'. Archaeology of Oceania.
  • Byrne, S. (forthcoming 2012) 'Voicing the Museum Artefact'. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies.
  • Byrne, S. (forthcoming March 2012) 'Community Archaeology as Knowledge Management: Reflections from Uneapa Island, Papua New Guinea'. Public Archaeology, 11 (1).
  • Byrne, S., 2005. 'Recent Survey and Excavation of the Monumental Complexes on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea'. Papers of the Institute of Archaeology, 16:95-102.

Publications: book chapters

  • Byrne, S. 2012 (forthcoming). 'Exposing the ‘heart’ of the museum- the archaeological sensibility in the storeroom'. In: Harrison, R., Byrne, S., Clarke, A., (eds.) Reassembling the Collection: Indigenous Agency and Ethnographic Collections. SAR Press, New Mexico.
  • Byrne, S. 2011. 'Trials and Traces: A. C. Haddon’s Agency as Museum Curator'. In: Byrne, S., Clarke, A., Harrison, R. and Torrence, R. (eds.) Unpacking the collection: museums, identity and agency, One World Archaeology Series, Springer. (More ...)

Publications: books

  • Byrne, S., Clarke, A., Harrison, R. and Torrence, R. (eds.) 2011. Unpacking the collection: museums, identity and agency, One World Archaeology Series, Springer. (More ...)
  • Harrison, R., Byrne, S., Clarke, A., (eds.) 2012 (forthcoming) Reassembling the Collection: Indigenous Agency and Ethnographic Collections. SAR Press, New Mexico

Teaching

  • 2012, Oral History Consultant for Exhibition Project, MA Museum Studies, UCL.
  • 2011 and 2012, organising and teaching Ethnographic Object Analysis Course, UCL.
  • 2011, contributing to the MA Collections Curatorship course, Institute of Archaeology, UCL.

This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by [UCL Mellon Admin]

Book cover: Muamma

Book cover: Unpacking the collection

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