School Newsletter 2018 - Our Students

VMMA student Thupten Kelsang organised a worhsop, ‘Re-Engaging Tibetan Material Heritage’, at the Pitt Rivers Museum, the British Museum and the V&A Museum

At the end of March, Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology (VMMA) student Thupten Kelsang organised ‘Re-engaging Tibetan Material Heritage’, a three day workshop on Tibetan collections in major museums in the UK. This unprecedented event enabled a delegation of Tibetans to participate in a series of object viewing/handling sessions and to listen to talks given by curators and academics at SOAS (University of London), Magdalen College (Oxford), the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford), the British Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum (Blythe House Archive). The group, from both inside and outside Tibet, included contemporary artists, representatives of the UK Tibetan diaspora, and postgraduate students.

The workshop provided an opportunity for members of the Tibetan community to directly engage with Tibetan material culture and to study historic artefacts that have otherwise been inaccessible to them. It was also designed to critique the histories of display, curation, and knowledge production around Tibetan material heritage that have dominated practice in Euro-American museums for more than a century.

These themes, and the workshop itself, are key components of the research that will underpin Thupten Kelsang’s MSc dissertation, which is supported by Professor Clare Harris in her curatorial role at the Pitt Rivers Museum and supervised in her academic post at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. As the first Tibetan refugee to study in the School, and the first from his community to take the VMMA degree, Thupten Kelsang is in a unique position to further develop such initiatives and to create sustainable, grassroots engagements between museums and Tibetans. We are delighted that Thupten has recently been awarded a Clarendon scholarship that will enable him to continue this important work at doctoral level and make further contributions to the Pitt Rivers Museum and the School from October 2018.

examining tibetan objects at the pitt rivers museum

Examining Tibetan objects at the Pitt Rivers Museum

discussing photographs at the pitt rivers museum

Discussing photographs at the Pitt Rivers Museum

visiting the galleries of the british museum

Visiting the galleries of the British Museum

National Geographic Award

In April 2018, DPhil student Katarina Almeida-Warren won a National Geographic Society award. Katerina was awarded a grant of $4,980 in support of her project 'The ecology of chimpanzee technology: new tools for modelling resource exploitation and ranging patterns of our earliest ancestors'.

You can see more about what Katerina and the other members of the Primate Models for Behavioural Evolution Lab have been up to over the last year here.

DPhil student Melyn McKay co-published a guest editorial in Anthropology Today

In February 2018, DPhil student Melyn McKay published, with Khin Chit Win, a guest editorial in the latest issue of Anthropology Today on 'Myanmar's Gender Paradox', exploring the role of women in the Buddhist nationalist Ma Ba Tha movement.

You can read more about Melyn's fieldwork and research in Myanmar here.