• paul.basu@ucl.ac.uk
  • Direct: +44 (0)20 7679 4935
  • Internal: 24935
  • Room 102
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

Paul Basu

Paul is on research leave during 2014-15

  • MSc, PhD
  • Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Heritage
  • Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology
  • Member of Council and Chair of Education Commitee, Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Managing Editor, Journal of Material Culture
  • 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 Projects

  • 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, 14 February to 28 April 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 September 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 Indigenous agency and cross-cultural museum practices in Southeast Asia (second supervisor Rodney Harrison)
  • Colin Sterling In culture's shadows: The role of photography in the social construction of heritage sites (principal supervisor Beverley Butler)
  • Matthew Webber The instrumentalization of contemporary art in Bosnia-Hercegovina: A new public sphere? (second supervisor Rodney Harrison)
  • Constance Wyndham Heritage intervention and international relations in Afghanistan (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)
  • Dr Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp Encounters of culture, heritage and development in Sierra Leone: An ethnography of global connection (awarded 2013)

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