Institute of Archaeology


David Francis - Honorary Lecturer


Name: Dr David Francis

Honorary Title: Honorary Lecturer

Email: tcrndfr@ucl.ac.uk

IoA staff nominator's name and email address:

Beverley Butler beverley.butler@ucl.ac.uk


IoA involvement:

A central thread that runs through David’s research is the exploration of how narrative is manifested and transmitted in the museum and through cultural heritage. His PhD thesis Excavating Freytag’s Pyramid: Narrative, identity and the museum visitor experience undertaken at the IoA explores the role of narrative in exhibition-making at the British Museum.

As a long-standing heritage practitioner, David is interested in the act of heritage-making in the creative economy. This expressed in his role as a researcher on the AHRC-Newton funded project Craft China: (Re)making Ethnic Heritage in China’s Creative Economy (2018–2020). This project, which was conducted in partnership with the Chinese National Museum of Ethnology and run by Beverley Butler, explores how a policy shift encouraging the transformation of Intangible Cultural Heritage also offers the opportunity for communities in Yunnan and Liangshan to create new narratives about what it means to be an ethnic minority in contemporary China. In turn, David is interested in how policies around localism and minority nationalism developed in China can be used to understand heritage and rural revivalism in the UK today.

David has worked as an interpretation and evaluation consultant in the UK at the British Museum, the British Library, the Natural History Museum and Chester Zoo. Internationally he has worked in Egypt, Uganda, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, India, Singapore and China. Through his role as a lecturer on the Goethe Institut’s SAWA Museum Academy in Sharjah and Berlin, he is interested in non-European traditions of museology and the capacity of the museum to act as a space for intercultural dialogue. He explores these themes at the IoA through his involvement in Alice Stevenson’s 100 histories of 100 worlds in 1 object network

David contributes to our ARCL0121 Cultural Memory module with Beverley Butler and ARCL0190 Museum Archaeology with Alice Stevenson.


Selected recent publications

  • Pan, L., Francis, D. & Zhang, L., 2021. Crafting Chinese Ethnic Minority Heritage: Innovation in the Chinese Ethnology Museum, in, Museum Innovation: Building More Equitable, Relevant and Impactful Museums (Eds M. Fordstrom and H. Eid). London: Routledge.
  • Francis, D., [Forthcoming 2021]. ‘Tracing a line-age: Narrative structures and the line in Chinese Museums,’ in The Museum in Asia (ed. Yunci Cai). Leicester Readers in Museum Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Moussouri, T., Alexopoulos, G. & Francis, D., 2019. Team-Based Inquiry practitioners manual. London: BGCI
  • Piehl, J. and Francis, D., 2018. ‘Untangling exhibition narratives: Towards a bridging of design research and design practice’, in, The Future of Museum Gallery Design. Routledge, Oxford.
  • Francis, D., 2015. “An Arena Where Meaning and Identity Are Debated and Contested on a Global Scale”: Narrative Discourses in British Museum Exhibitions, 1972–2013 Curator: The Museum Journal Volume 58, Issue 1, 2015.