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Student Profiles

Alison Clark

Thesis Title

Reconfiguring the colonial gaze: the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander photographic collection at the British Museum.


This project focuses on the collection of historic ethnographic photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, landscapes and material culture held at the British Museum (BM). The collection includes photographs taken by key figures in the history of anthropology. The photographs in the BM’s Australian collection are intimately connected to Britain’s colonial history and the role of ethnography and anthropology within that history. Nonetheless, to date no academic study has examined the entire Australian photographic collection in the British Museum. The project therefore sets out to historicise the collection, to increase knowledge about the collection by connecting some photographs to source communities, to consider what insights the photographs can still afford into historic and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to explore the implications of this work for future exhibition and/or digital repatriation of the collection.

Education/Professional background

BA Honours in History of Art and English Literature from the University of Reading. MA in Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas from the Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia. Prior to starting the PhD I worked on a Getty Funded Project to catalogue and research the Oceanic photograph collection at the British Museum.

First and second supervisor

Dr Ian Henderson
Dr Lissant Bolton (British Museum

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