John Giblin is Keeper for the Department of World Cultures.

John Giblin received his BA(Hons), MA and PhD in archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, where, since 2014, he is also an Honorary Lecturer. 

His MA ethno-archaeological research investigated the history and contemporary practice of a group of royal potters from Buganda, Uganda. His PhD investigated the first and second millennium archaeology of Rwanda and the relevance of archaeological narratives in a post-genocide era. Following his PhD studies, he undertook post-doctoral research that concerned the role of heritage in post-conflict development in Rwanda and Uganda at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

He worked for two years as a Lecturer in Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Australia, where he was also a member of the Institute of Culture and Society. He left UWS to take up the post of Head of Africa Section, in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, at the British Museum (BM). Over his four years at the BM, he was involved in and oversaw many Africa projects, including the major temporary exhibition, South Africa: the art of a nation, which he lead-curated.        

He joined National Museums Scotland in 2018 as Keeper of World Cultures, where he is responsible for a diverse department and collection that includes curatorial specialisms and objects from the ancient Mediterranean, Africa, Oceania, the Americas, and Asia.

His research interests fall into two overlapping disciplines, Archaeology and Critical Heritage Studies, and is focused on the post-colonial and post-conflict role and practice of archaeology and heritage in eastern Africa.    

Selected publications

  1. ‘Heritage and the Use of the Past in East Africa.’ In The Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of African History. Thomas Spear (ed). New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming
  2. ‘Performing Diplomacy at Rwanda’s National Genocide Memorials’, Journal of African Cultural Heritage Studies, (online) 2017.
  3. With M. Mugabowagahunde and A. Ntagwabira ‘International Heritage Tourism in Rwanda: Paving over the Past at the Musanze Caves’, Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 2017, 19 (2), 126-140.
  4. ‘Reconstructing Post-Conflict Heritage in Rwanda’. In: Young, R. and Graham, P. (eds.) Post-Conflict Archaeology and Heritage. Abingdon, Routledge. 2017.
  5. ‘Performing Indigenous for International Tourists who Tour the Rural Poor, In: C. Hillerdal, Karlstrom, A. and Ojala, C-L. (ed.) Archaeologies of “Us” and “Them”: Debating History, Heritage and Indigeneity. Abingdon, Routledge. Chapter 8. 2017
  6. With C. Spring, South Africa: the art of a nation. London: Thames and Hudson. 2016.
  7. ‘Toward an Archaeology of Recent Violent Conflict in Western Great Lakes Africa’, Journal of Conflict Archaeology, 2015, 10(2): 123-146.
  8. ‘Critical Approaches to Post-colonial (Post-conflict) Heritage: Reappropriation, Recycling and Renewal’, In: Waterton, E. and Watson, S. (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research. Oxford. Palgrave. Chapter 19. 2015.
  9. ‘Possibilities and Politics Regarding the Archaeological Identification of Pre-Colonial Twa, Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda’, In: Richard, F. and MacDonald, K. C. (eds.) Ethnic Ambiguities in African Archaeology: Materiality, History and the Shaping of Cultural Identities. Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press. Chapter 8. 2015
  10. ‘Can, Door, Heritage: A Conflict to Post-Conflict Object Narrative’, In: Clarke, A., Brown, S., and Frederick, U. (eds.) Object Stories: artefacts and archaeologists. Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press. Pp. 103-110. 2014.
  11. ‘Archaeological Ethics and Violence in Post-Genocide Rwanda’, In: Moshenska G. and Gonzalez-Ruibal, A. (eds.) Ethics and the Archaeology of Violence. World Archaeological Congress. New York, Springer. Pp 35-50, 2014.
  12. ‘Toward a Political Ethic in African Archaeology’, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. Special Edition: Ethics in African Archaeology, 2014, 49(2): 148-165.
  13. With R. King and B. Smith. Introduction: de-centring ethical assumptions by re-centring ethical debate in African archaeology, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa. Special Edition: Ethics in African Archaeology, 2014, 49(2): 131-135.
  14. ‘Politics, Ideology and Indigenous Perspectives’ In: Mitchell, P. and Lane P. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Pp 253-268., 2013.
  15. ‘A Reconsideration of Rwandan Archaeological Ceramics and their Political Significance in a Post-Genocide Era’. African Archaeological Review, 2013, DOI: 10.1007/s10437-013-9144-1
  16. Post-Conflict Heritage: Symbolic Healing and Cultural Renewal’. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2013, DOI: 10.1080/13527258-2013-772912
  17. ‘Decolonial Challenges and Post-Genocide Archaeological Politics in Rwanda’. Public Archaeology, 2013, 11(3): 123-143.
  18. With R. Kigongo ‘The Social and Symbolic Context of the Royal Potters of Buganda’, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 2012, 47(1): 64-8.
  19. With J. Humphris, M. Mugabowagahunde and A. Ntagwabira. ‘Challenges for Pre-Colonial Archaeological Site Management in Rwanda’, Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 2011, 13: 174-88.
  20. With D. Fuller, ‘First and Second Millennium A.D. Agriculture in Rwanda: Archaeobotanical Finds and Radiocarbon Dates from Seven Sites’, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 2011, 20: 253-265.
  21. With A. Clement and J. Humphris. ‘An Urewe Burial in Rwanda: Health, Wealth and Violence c. 400 AD’, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 2010, 45(3): 276-297.
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