The Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at UEA (SRU), together with the British Museum (BM), are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded Collaborative doctoral studentship from October 2023 under the AHRC’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.

The project will be jointly supervised by Dr Chris Wingfield (SRU), and Dr Julie Adams (BM) with Prof. Steven Hooper (SRU) and Dr Alice Christophe (BM). The student will spend time at both institutions and become part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students.

Project Overview

At the project’s heart are approximately 100 sacred artefacts, acquired by the London Missionary Society (LMS) in Tahiti and the Society Islands, the Cook, Austral and Hawaiian Islands between 1815 and 1830. Held at the British Museum since 1890, they constitute the most important assemblage of ancient Polynesian ritual artefacts held anywhere in the world. Some have gone on to become the most admired and famous works of Polynesian art, but many more have remained in storage and are largely unstudied and unknown.

In January 2023, key artefacts obtained by the LMS, including the figure of A’a, returned on loan to Te Fare Iamanaha, the Museum of Tahiti and the Isles – the first time they will have been seen in their region of origin for approximately two hundred years. This physical return provides an opportunity to explore responses to these historic artefacts, to confront the narratives through which their presence in Europe has been understood, but also to document contemporary narratives of conversion in Polynesia.


We encourage the widest range of potential students to study for this CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applicants from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area.

Applicants should have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or have equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines might include Anthropology, Art History, History, Archaeology, Religious Studies or Museum Studies.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the museum sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

For more information see:


Application enquiries should be sent to Academic enquiries should be sent to Dr Chris Wingfield (


This project has been selected for funding by the AHRC as part of a British Museum Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award. The successful candidate will be awarded an AHRC studentship that pays tuition fees, an enhanced stipend (£19,218 p.a. for 2022/23), and training and research costs, for 3.75-4 years, depending on training needs. Additional funding for travel and research related expenses will be available from the British Museum, and Sainsbury Research Unit at UEA.

Unfortunately, no additional funds are available for relocation or visa costs.

More here. 

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