Dr Sandra Dudley

Sandra is a social and material anthropologist whose research reflects some intersecting themes across contemporary 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), and she has particular interests in exile, forced migration and displacement (variously defined), objects and collections, and ontology.

Dr Sandra Dudley

Deputy Head of School, Joint Director of Postgraduate Research

+44 (0) 116 252 3970

Responsibilities and Teaching

Sandra is Deputy Head of School and Joint Director of Postgraduate Research, and contributes teaching across most of the School's Masters programmes. She is also Joint Chief Editor of Berghahn's international annual journal in museum studies, Museum Worlds: Advances in Research. Her teaching is synergistic with her research, focusing on the crosscultural and the culturally sensitive; world arts and museum ethnography; approaches to objects, interpretation, and sensory and emotional engagement; relationships between the tangible and the intangible (and how they may be understood in different contexts); and shifting ideas of 'culture', 'heritage' and so on.

Career History

Sandra came to the School in 2002, 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. Sandra has also made major field collections of contemporary textiles from Thailand and Burma for the Pitt Rivers Museum and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, consulted on a range of refugee and museum projects, and has been a Graduate Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. 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 ongoing work with Karenni refugees (from Burma) living in camps on the northwestern border of Thailand.

Sandra collaborates with 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 a new, materiality, lens.

PhD Supervision

Sandra currently supervises students working on a range of research areas.

Topics available for PhD supervision include:

  • objects in museums
  • museum ethnography and material culture
  • displacement and exile
  • material anthropology and museum anthropology
  • tangible and intangible culture, changes in cultural practice and how it is understood, particularly in South or Southeast Asia or the UK
  • sensory culture, 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
    • Pharaonic material culture and its meanings in present-day Egypt - Dr Ashraf Melika



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