Paul Basu: Object Affordances - Key Concepts Seminar - Research Center for Material Culture
2 March 2018

Paul Basu: Object Affordances

Key Concepts Seminar | 2 Mar 2018 | RCMC

For the March 2nd Key Concepts Seminar, Professor Paul Basu will discuss the concept of 'affordances' in relation to material culture.


Paul Basu received his PhD in Anthropology at University College London, where he was a member of the Material Culture Research Group. His doctoral research was concerned with genealogical heritage tourism and the historical imagination in the Scottish Highland diaspora. His regional specialization has subsequently been focused in West Africa, and particularly in Sierra Leone, where he continues to work on issues around landscape, memory and cultural heritage. Most recently Paul has been working in Nigeria, retracing the itineraries of the colonial anthropologist N. W. Thomas. Paul was Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Sussex University, before returning to UCL to take up a Readership in Material Culture and Museum Studies. He became Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Heritage at UCL prior to joining SOAS in 2015. Before becoming an anthropologist, Paul trained and worked as a filmmaker, and he continues to explore the use of different media in ethnographic research and exhibition curation.

Paul Basu’s research interests centre around spatial, temporal and intercultural dynamics. Much of his work is strongly interdisciplinary in character, drawing upon historical and archaeological approaches as well as ethnographic methods, to investigate local understandings of the past and its relationship with the present and the future. As well as anthropological research on issues around cultural memory, landscape and heritage, Paul engages in museum- and heritage-related consultancy work, working alongside the British Museum’s Africa Programme, for example, and recently leading a legislative review for the Sierra Leonean Government.

Ongoing and Past Research Projects:

  • Palimpsest Memoryscapes: Historical Consciousness in Sierra Leone
  • Revisiting Colonial Anthropology in West Africa
  • Material Migrations, Object Diasporas and Global Museumscapes
  • Instrumentalization of Culture and Cultural Heritage
  • Visual Anthropology and Exhibitions