Ali Bennett

Objects from Uganda and the mainland of Kenya began to flow into museum collections in Britain and Eastern Africa in the second half of the nineteenth century. These collections - and their associated documentation - are extensive, diverse, and historically important, yet they are also significantly under-researched. Ali's thesis is a study of the complex process by which those objects were collected, circulated, recontextualised and remembered. It is also a contribution to wider discussions about the cultural expressions of imperialism, and how material culture in particular shaped colonial interactions, processes and events. The project sits at the intersection of imperial history, the history of museums and collecting, and East African studies.


Supervisor: Margot Finn (UCL) and John Giblin (British Museum)
Working title: 'Ethnographic Collecting and the Material Culture of Imperialism in East Africa, c.1880-1920'
Expected completion date: 2018

Conference papers and presentations

  • 'Objects in Motion: Converting and Collecting Uganda: c.1870-1920', Ways of Knowing, annual postgraduate conference, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University, October 2017
  • 'Exploration, Treaty-Making and Trade: Sources of the Imperial British East Africa Company', The Hakluyt Society Symposium 2017: Trading Companies and Travel Literature, University of Kent/Chatham Historical Dockyard, September 2017
  • 'Collecting Uganda: Rethinking Colonial Politics through Objects', Emerging Approaches in Uganda Studies, Institute of Advanced Studies, London, April 2017
  • 'Indigenous Collectors in the Archive: Sir Apolo Kaggwa and Imperial Knowledge Creation in Uganda', North American Conference on British Studies 2016, Washington, D.C., November 2016
  • 'Apolo Kaggwa, Historical Knowledge Creation and Ethnographic Constructions of the Baganda', The Ethnographic Archive: History, Anthropology and The Sudan Archive, University of Durham, September 2016

    Conference organisation

    • Histories of Collections and Institutions, The National Gallery, May 2017
    • Using Museum Archives, The British Museum, July 2015
    • Networks, Power, and Empire, UCL postgraduate history conference, UCL, May 2015

    Grants and projects

    Ali's PhD research is funded by an AHRC collaborative doctoral award. She was also a project associate on the Leverhulme Trust-funded research project, The East India Company at Home.


    During her time at UCL History, Ali has taught on the following undergraduate modules:

    • Making History
    • Writing History
    • Britain and the Wider World 1878-1972

    She has led workshops, lectures and seminars for UCL's Widening Participation programme and is also a course leader at the V&A Research Institute