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Professor Nicholas Thomas

Professor  Nicholas Thomas

Director & Curator, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


Biography:

Nicholas Thomas first visited the Pacific in 1984 to research his doctoral thesis on culture and change in the Marquesas Islands, which led to work ranging over Indigenous histories, cross-cultural encounters, colonialism and contemporary art. Foundation Director of the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research at the Australian National University (1996-99) and Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, London (1999-2006), since 2006 he has been Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, periodically chair of the University of Cambridge Musuems consortium and a Fellow of Trinity College. He is author or editor of nearly fifty books, including Entangled Objects (1991), which influentially contributed to a revival of material culture studies, Possessions: Indigenous Art/Colonial Culture (1999), Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook (2003) and Islanders: the Pacific in the age of empire (2012), which was awarded the Wolfson History Prize. He co-curated 'Oceania' for the Royal Academy in London and Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris, which attracted over 250,000 visitors. His current work, building on The Return of Curiosity: what museums are good for in the twenty-first century (2016), focusses on museum histories and futures; he has written for The Art Newspaper, Apollo and the Financial Times about restitution and other museum issues.

Key Publications

2019 (with Elena Govor) Tiki: Marquesan art and the Krusenstern voyage. Leiden: Sidestone

2019 (with Wayne Modest, Claudia Augustat and Doris Prilić) Matters of belonging: ethnographic museums in a changing Europe. Leiden: Sidestone

2018 Oceanic art, second edition. London: Thames and Hudson (World of Art series)

2018 Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook, second edition. London: Penguin

2018 (with Lucie Carreau, Alison Clark, Alana Jelinek and Erna Lilje) Pacific presences: Oceanic art and European museums. Leiden: Sidestone

2018 (with Peter Brunt) Oceania. London: Royal Academy of Arts

2018 ‘The museum as method, revisited’. In Philipp Schorch and Conal McCarthy (eds.) Curatopia: museums and the future of curatorship, 19-28. Manchester: Manchester University Press

2018 ‘Human flow in Melanesia: Taloi Havini’s artefacts and habitats’, Artlink 38 (3): 38-43

2018 'A great collection of curiosities from the South Sea Islands': William Hunter's ethnography. In Mungo Campbell and Nathan Fils (eds.) William Hunter and the anatomy of the modern museum, 130-145. New Haven: Yale University Press

2018 Culture and imperialism: John Pule's painting, 1990-2010. In Michelle Keown, Andrew Taylor and Mandy Treagus (eds.) Anglo-American Imperialism in the Pacific, 131-145. London: Routledge

2018 'Artist of PNG': Mathias Kauage and Melanesian modernism. In Elizabeth Harney and Ruth Phillips (eds.) Mapping modernisms: art, indigeneity, colonialism, 163-186. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

2018    'Specimens of bark cloth, 1769': the travels of textiles collected on Cook's first voyage. Journal of the History of Collections

2018    A case of identity: the artefacts of the 1770 Kamay (Botany Bay) encounter. Australian Historical Studies 49: 4-27