Dr Rafie Cecilia
Lecturer in CMCI, Museum & Gallery Studies
Rafie joined CMCI in September 2023 as a Lecturer in Museum and Gallery studies. Previously, Rafie worked at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, Institute of Education, Global Disability Innovation Hub, and Centre for Critical Heritage Studies. Rafie’s doctoral and postdoctoral research looks at the embodied experience of visitors with disabilities in GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) institutions and digital innovation, fostering a social justice and human rights approach. Rafie’s research can be divided in three main strands, 1. the museum experience of visitors with disabilities, 2. digital innovation and inclusive technology, and 3. inclusive politics of display and governance.
During her academic career, Rafie has also worked as access and inclusion consultant and audience researcher for several museums and institutions, including the Wellcome Collection, the British Museum, the Science Museum Group, the Science Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the Chau Chak Wing Museum (Sydney).
Rafie is an advocate for equality, social justice, and sustainable change. Her work is in service to the idea that cultural heritage must be open and accessible to everyone in society, and she puts these principles into practice in concrete and sustainable ways.
Research interests and PhD supervision
- Inclusive technology and creative digital innovation practice, especially in relation to museums and collections, including 3D printing and modelling, accessible software, wayfinding & navigation.
- GLAM audiences and the way they make meaning of collections, focusing on politics of display, situated meaning-making, and embodied forms of cognition.
- Identity and representation of people with disabilities in GLAM collections, particularly looking at positive representation of disability through the lenses of emancipatory framework.
- Inclusive governance and policy-making, and specifically the use of co-design and co-creation to challenge traditional and ableist forms of governance, to enable people with disabilities to be fully involved in organisational decision making.
Rafie’s research focuses on experiences of disability within critical theories of identity, embodiment, and representation, from embodied cognition, situated learning to sociology of impairment and theory of practice. Rafie is particularly interested in decolonial and critical disability methodologies, fostering a co-creation and participatory research environment. Rafie welcomes applications for PhD projects related to any of these research interests, and specifically encourages people who identify as disabled to get in touch for support at every stage of the application process.
Rafie teaches across a range of modules in the CMCI department, specialising on museums, galleries and heritage practice, and more specifically on diversity, disability, representation and decolonial approaches to collections. Her teaching practice is grounded in the idea of creating meaningful learning experiences for students of all backgrounds and abilities. Using co-creation and participatory methods, Rafie encourages students to bring fresh perspectives and express themselves in creative knowledge production and sharing.
Expertise and public engagement
Rafie has extensive experience working in museums and galleries, carrying out independent research projects, public speaking, coordinating public engagement activities, and university teaching. As an access & inclusion consultant and audience researcher, Rafie collaborates with the Wellcome Collection, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Science Museum Group, and the British Museum, among several other institutions. She is also a member of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, the Group for Literary Archives & Manuscripts, the Visitor Studies Group, the Museum Computer Group Programme Committee, the Global Disability Innovation Hub, and an editorial advisor for Curator, the Museum Journal.
Cecilia, R. Moussouri, T., Fraser, J. 2023. AltText: an institutional tool for change. Curator: The Museum Journal, 66/2: 225-231
Cecilia, R., Moussouri, T., Fraser, J. 2023. Creating accessible digital images for vision impaired audiences and researchers. Curator: The Museum Journal, 66/1: 5-8
Cecilia, R. 2022. Inclusive visions: the museum experience of young blind and partially sighted visitors. Oxford: BAR Publishing.
Cecilia, R. 2022. Blind and Partially Sighted People’s Motivation to Visit Museums: A London-based Case Study. Forum Kritische Archäologie, 11:127–141
Cecilia, R. 2021. COVID-19 Pandemic: Threat or Opportunity for Blind and Partially Sighted Museum Visitors? Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, 19(1): 5, 1–8