I currently research on the Profusion theme of the AHRC-funded Heritage Futures project. In collaboration with theme director Sharon Macdonald, I look at what – when faced with many possible things – museums and homes decide to keep for the future, and why. Using ethnographic methods, my research addresses the challenge presented by the abundance of material and digital things for assembling the future-archive. We focus on key topics, such as contemporary collecting, storage, and disposal. In doing so, the research considers the values, motivations, emotions, and properties of things themselves which shape what (and what does not) make it into the future.
Most of my anthropological work within the interdisciplinary fields of museum and heritage studies has looked at museological transformation; expressed both theoretically and practically. My PhD research (University of Manchester) looked at change in the ‘aftermath’ of a large-scale redevelopment at a Scottish museum. Earlier research investigated museum-community relationships in New Zealand. Post-doctoral work at Loughborough University on two large, interdisciplinary safety-projects enabled me to move beyond the museum to consolidate my expertise in organisational anthropology and workplace ethnography. I developed an applied, sensory, and short-term ethnographic approach, and continue to explore the potential of visual methods through my museum and heritage research.
I am a Lecturer in Heritage in the History and Politics Division at the University of Stirling, and a Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of York. My work is published in a range of peer-reviewed sources including Museum and Society, Journal of Material Culture, and Environment and Planning A. Not only do I study museums but I have worked in them. This included as Curator of Pictorial Collections at Puke Ariki (New Zealand). I am on the Editorial Board for Anthropology in Action.