My doctoral research project at CARMAH deals with objects from colonial contexts and the ways in which museum practitioners engage with their contentious legacies. In particular, my work traces the relational ties between collections dispersed across disciplinary, institutional and national boundaries. I focus primarily on parts of a collection divided between Hamburg’s Museum am Rothenbaum – Künste und Kulturen der Welt (MARKK) and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) in Paris.
Engaging with these field sites allows me to observe how the boundaries between ‘ethnographic objects’ and ‘natural history specimens’ are enacted. As I explore the ways in which objects with a similar provenance come to be so differently embedded in disciplinary frameworks, I look to the generative potential that lies beyond these categories. Situating these questions within Europe’s changing contemporary museum landscape, I draw on literature concerning affordances and material culture in the museum, as well as current debates about provenance research.
Prior to beginning my PhD, I spent time at the MNHN as part of a European Joint Master’s Degree in Heritage Management (DYCLAM). Jointly administered by a number of European universities, the degree also allowed me to study at the Université Jean-Monnet de Saint-Etienne (France), Instituto Politécnico do Tomar (Portugal) and the Università di Napoli Federico II (Italy). I first came to CARMAH at the end of this two-year programme to conduct research for my Master’s thesis, during which time I was assisting with the EU Horizon 2020 TRACES project.