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Dr Ali Clark

Dr Ali Clark
Dr Ali Clark
Senior Curator, Oceania
Responsible for: Collections from Oceania.
Research interests: Collecting histories, climate change, ethnobotany, land rights, and contemporary Oceanic art.

Dr Ali Clark is senior curator, responsible for collections from Oceania.

Ali received her MA in Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and her Collaborative PhD from the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King’s College London. Her thesis was entitled 'Conversations in Country: Tiwi and Yirandali Indigenous Australian collections in the British Museum'.

She has previously worked at the October Gallery and the British Museum. Prior to her appointment at National Museums Scotland in 2020 she was a post-doctoral research associate on the ERC funded project, ‘Pacific Presences: Oceanic Art and European Museums’ (2013-2018) based at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), University of Cambridge. This was followed by a 12 month Newton Trust Fellowship also based at the MAA during which time she completed her monograph on the history of HMS Royalist and its collecting practices in the Pacific 1890-1893.

Her 2023 exhibition Rising Tide: Art and Environment in Oceania delved into the most important and pressing issue of our time, humanity's damaging relationship with planet Earth. The exhibition considered our relationship to the natural environment through contemporary responses to climate change and plastic waste by Indigenous Australian and Pacific Islander artists. At the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge she curated The Island Warrior (2017) a collaboration with artists Chris Charteris, Kaetaeta Watson and Lizzy Leckie, and co-curated Antipodes (2016) which featured new work by Brook Andrew, Caroline Rothwell and Tom Nicholson.

Between 2022-23 she was Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded project 'People and Plants'She is currently partner investigator on the ARC funded project 'Entangled Knowledges: Kaartdijin, Science and History in the Robert Neill collection’ led by Deakin University. 

She is primary supervisor for the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with the Sainsbury Research Unit 'Imagining the Pacific in Scotland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries: Collectors, Collections, Museums and Universities'

Her current research is focused on Micronesia and Australia where she has a particular focus on art and climate change, and biocultural collections.

Clark, A, S Coyne, A Paterson and T Shellam (Forthcoming). Entangled knowledges: re-indigenizing biocultural collections at National Museums Scotland. In M Rowlands, N Stanley and G Were. Reframing the Ethnographic Museum: Histories, Politics and Futures. London: UCL Press.

Clark, A. and A. McLaren (2019). ‘Captain Cook Upon Changing Seas: Indigenous Voices and Reimaging at the British Museum’. Journal of Pacific History. DOI: 10.1080/00223344.2019.1663390

Clark, A. (2019) Resonant Histories: Pacific Artefacts and the voyages of HMS Royalist  1890-1893. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

Clark, A. and Erna Lilje. (2019) ‘Decolonizing Strategies: Doing Research in Ethnographic Museums’. Journal of Museum Ethnography, Vol.32, pp.32-45.

Clark, A., C. Harvey, L. Kenward and J. Porter. (2018) ‘More Than Souvenirs: Lady Annie Brassey’s Curated Collections’. Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing. Vol.19 (2), pp.82-105.

Clark, A., C. Charteris, R. Howie, L. Leckie and K. Watson. (2018) ‘Many Hands, Many Voices: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Exhibiting Kiribati Armour’. Journal of the Institute of Conservation.

Carreau. L., A. Clark, A. Jelinek, E. Lilje and N. Thomas. (2018) Pacific Presences: Oceanic Art and European Museums Volumes One and Two. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

Adams, J.,  P. Bence and A. Clark. (2018) Fighting Fibres: Kiribati Coconut Fibre Armour and Museum Collections. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

For further publications see the National Museums Scotland Research Repository.

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