Dr Sandra Dudley

Sandra is a social and material anthropologist whose work transects social anthropology, museum studies, and material culture studies. Her work is focused in refugee and museum settings in Southeast Asia and South Asia (Burma [Myanmar], Thailand and India) and the UK). She has interconnecting interests in exile and displacement; objects, materials and collections; and the uses of philosophy in anthropological and museum theory and practice.

Dr Sandra Dudley

Associate Professor

+44 (0) 116 252 3970

Responsibilities and Teaching

Sandra is currently on study leave. She contributes research-led teaching on objects, collections, cultures and communities to the School's fulltime MA in Museum Studies and to the distance learning Masters programmes. She is also Joint Chief Editor of Berghahn's international annual journal in museum studies, Museum Worlds: Advances in Research


Sandra came to the School in 2003, after holding postdoctoral research posts at the University of Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum and in the University of Oxford's Department for International Development, and lecturing in Oxford's School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and at the University of East Anglia. She worked for over ten years in various curatorial and collections management capacities at the Pitt Rivers Museum. She has made major field collections of contemporary textiles from Southeast Asia for two major UK museums, consulted on refugee and museum projects and been a Smithsonian Institution Graduate Fellow. She undertook her doctorate in social anthropology at the University of Oxford, where she was Old Members' Scholar at Jesus College and recipient of the Royal Anthropological Institute's Sutasoma Starred Award. It was then that she began her work with encamped Karenni refugees living on the Thai-Burma border.

Sandra collaborates with academic colleagues, museums, galleries and non-governmental organisations in the UK and internationally, and is currently working with the National Museum Institute (New Delhi) and other cultural organisations and museums in India.

She has published six books, including an edited volume that repositions approaches to materiality, sensory experience and emotional engagement in the museum and a monograph that looks at forced migration through an innovative, material lens.

PhD Supervision

Sandra currently supervises students working on a range of research areas and is interested in supervising students working on topics around objects in museums; museum ethnography and material culture; displacement and exile; material and museum anthropology; tangible and intangible culture; changes in cultural practice and how it is experienced, represented and understood (particularly in South or Southeast Asia or the UK); and sensory engagement and experience.

Past PhD students have explored topics that include:

    • the cross-cultural relevance of preservation education provision, with specific reference to New Zealand - Dr Jeanette Atkinson
    • engagements with ‘Chineseness’ through Chinese ceramics in British museums and galleries - Dr Vivian Ting
    • museal representations of dress in France, England, and North America, 1850-present - Dr Julia Petrov
    • perception and wellbeing in the experience of art in the museum - Dr Jennifer Binnie
    • heritage presentation in postcolonial Sri Lanka, with specific reference to the Colombo National Museum - Dr Chulani Rambukwella
    • material culture and its meanings in present-day Egypt - Dr Ashraf Melika
    • a comparison of contemporary display practice at the British Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum, utilising indigenous research methodologies - Dr Kirstin James
    • the role of material objects in art galleries in facilitating imaginative interpretations and challenging institutional practice - Dr Alexandra Woodall
    • a phenomenological approach to the making and meaning of quilts that commemorate an American family’s adoption of a Chinese child - Dr Marin Hanson



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