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The Making of Living Heritage: Comparative analysis of the history and role of craft practitioners in the making of living museums in Africa and the UK

  • School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU)


This PhD project will explore the history and roles of craft specialists in living museums, comparing three case-studies from northern and southern Africa and the UK. In all regions there are well established traditions of living museums that showcase traditional and historical lifeways and livelihoods. In most cases, these institutions grew out of an urgent sense of cultural loss in the face of modern and globalised living. However, these regional traditions have emerged from specific political, historical and museological contexts that are localised and not static. For southern Africa there is an ongoing tension between the idea of living museums or cultural villages as sources of tourism and income on the one hand, and a troubling residue of colonial and apartheid ideology that othered and primitivized African societies on the other hand. This PhD will explore these local trajectories and contexts through detailed study of the history of living museums in each region. It will contribute to the theoretical foundation of what a living museum is, and what it means to local stakeholders and communities of making. In addition, the candidate will carry out detailed ethnographies at each case study, interviewing and observing the practitioners, visitors and curators.

The PhD Candidate may undertake some fieldwork through short visits and/ or placements at partner museums or fieldwork at case study locations.

Entry qualifications

Candidates with a background in museum studies, heritage, anthropology, archaeology, archives, art, architecture, art history, crafts, making and related disciplines would be well placed to approach this project.

How to apply

The application deadline for this project is Friday 16 March 2023.

Fees and funding

This is a fully-funded PhD project for applicants worldwide.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Gamal Abdelmonem