World Cultures covers a wide range of artefacts from around the world, dating from the prehistoric to the present day. The department is organized into four sections:
Collection highlights include ancient Egyptian material, Near Eastern archaeology (including Cyprus), ancient Mediterranean glass (600 BCE–CE 600), Tibetan thangkas (17th–19th centuries), Chinese lacquer (200 BCE–c.1900), Japanese woodblock prints (1800–20th century), Persian art (18th–19th centuries), Indian sculpture (10th–20th centuries) and Indonesian textiles (18th–20th centuries). There is a wide variety of objects collected by early Scottish missionaries in central Africa, as well as significant early North Athapaskan collections from the Canadian Subarctic collected by Scottish traders. Artefacts from early exploration of the Pacific include material from Captain Cook’s voyages and the Challenger Expedition.
The Jean Jenkins Collection of sound archives highlights her pioneering work in Africa, the Middle East and India gathering examples of native music in the 20th century.
Responsible for: The Department of World Cultures, its staff, projects and collections.
Research interests: Archaeology and Critical Heritage Studies, particularly, the post-colonial and post-conflict role and practice of archaeology and heritage in eastern Africa.
Responsible for: Head of Asia section
Research interests: Collecting history and practices, Middle Eastern art and craft, identity and cultural heritage
Responsible for: Managing the Chinese collections, including those of the Himalayan and Mongolian regions, and the Korean peninsula.
Research interests: Chinese material culture, in particular weapons of the Shang and Zhou dynasties and numismatics, as well as the history of collecting.
Responsible for: Collections from across sub-Saharan and North-east Africa.
Research interests: Textiles, clothing and adornment, especially Hausa of Northern Nigeria.
Responsible for: Head of the Mediterranean, Africa, Americas and Oceania Section, with an emphasis on the Ancient Mediterranean collections.
Research interests: Middle Kingdom Egyptian culture, especially tomb decoration, tomb models, and literature; society and identity; the history of early Egyptology.
Responsible for: Collections from Oceania and the Americas
Research interests: Collecting histories, climate change, ethnobotany, land rights, and contemporary Oceanic art.
Responsible for: The Japanese and Ainu collections.
Research interests: Edo-period art and culture, ukiyo-e, Kitagawa Utamaro, the work of female artists, the history of collecting and collections, and issues relating to gender and sexuality.
Responsible for: The Ancient Mediterranean collections with emphasis on managing Ancient Egyptian collections.
Research interests: Ramesside Egyptian religion, texts and language. Pragmatics and Cognitive Linguistics. Early Egyptology, collectors and collecting.
Responsible for: Working with Middle Eastern and South Asian collections, as well as supporting the work of the department across all regional sections.
Research interests: Southeast Asia; costume and textiles; material culture; collectors and collecting; colonial encounters.
Responsible for: Working with collections from the Ancient Mediterranean including Ancient Egypt, and Oceania, the Americas, and Africa.
Research interests: The migration and exchange of imagery and symbolism across cultures.
Responsible for: Working with East and Central Asian collections; storage, preventive conservation, exhibition and loans preparation.
Research interests: Access, interpretation and audience.
Responsible for: Supporting the work of the Curator for Japan, improving the Japanese clothing and textiles collection. Her post is funded by the Japan Foundation.
Research interests: cultural exchange between Japan and Europe in the early Edo period and the Meiji and Taisho periods, fashion history.
Responsible for: Working with collections across the department from the Middle East and South Asia and the Ancient Mediterranean, Oceania, Americas and Africa.
Research interests: Collecting and exhibition histories; West African collections, particularly Nigerian; international museum collaborations; museums and decolonisation.
Research interests: Pacific collections, particularly Melanesia; anthropology of art; religion and ritual practices; socio-cultural change; museology.
Responsible for: From 2017-2020 Dr Henrietta Lidchi is seconded as the Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded project 'Baggage and Belonging: Military Collections and the British Empire (1750-1900)'. She is working on this project with her Co-investigator Stuart Allan in the Department of Scottish History and Archaeology.
Tel: 0131 247 4230