Dr Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp

Dr Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp was Senior Curator of Anthropology and worked on the African collections. She continues to work with the Horniman in her new role at UCL.
Johanna completed a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University (2003-2006) before going on to study for a Masters in Cultural Heritage Studies at UCL (2006-2007). During this time she developed an interest in Swedish Saami youth culture, in particular electronic recordings of Jojk – a traditional form of Saami vocal music. Johanna's interest in African culture and heritage developed during her Doctoral research (2009-2012) for which she was based at the Sierra Leone National Museum. Her PhD research focused on the writing of post-war cultural heritage narratives, and the impact of international development discourse on this. Since 2016, she has primarily been working on a British Academy funded Post-Doctoral research project, based at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) at Cambridge University. This research looks at museum collections from the end of the British Empire in Africa. This includes a collection from the DRC collected by Rev. Lionel West between 1930 and 1960, a collection made by the family of an agricultural scientist called Roger Brain working in Sudan (1953-1959) and Nigeria (1959-1969), and the Spooner collection collected in Ghana and Nigeria in the 1940s and 50s. She has also been looking at material collected by British military and prison officers in Kenya in the 1950s during the Mau Mau rebellion.

Research interests

  • Understanding the history of decolonisation through collections
  • Colonial legacies in the present, including the politics and representation of race and racism in museums.
  • Pentecostal Christianity and heritage in West Africa
  • Ethical museum practice surrounding the curation of ethnographic collections

Conference presentations

June 2013. Working with 'origin communities' at the Horniman Museum: A global perspective. Museum Ethnographers Group 'Engaging Curators' workshop, Great North Hancock Museum, Newcastle. April 2013. Negotiating knowledge: 'Facebooking' problematic narratives in Sierra Leone. Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. June 2012. The power of culture for development in Sierra Leone: reproduction and transformation of Western heritage discourse. Association of Critical Heritage Studies Inaugural Conference, University of Gothenburg. March 2012. Un-capitalising Human Rights: translations of morality through encounters of culture, heritage, and development. Heritage that Heals: Post-conflict Uses and Abuses of Heritage in Africa, University of Gothenburg. February 2011. Encounters of Culture, Heritage and Development: a case study from the Sierra Leone National Museum. Pitt Rivers Museum Anthropology Seminar Series. University of Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum. July 2010. Reanimating Cultural Heritage in Sierra Leone: A search for the source community. Museums and Restitution, University of Manchester. The Manchester Museum.


  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2018. ‘Home-Made’ guns and double-edged blades: Mau Mau collections at the Imperial War Museum. Journal of Museum Ethnography 31: 187-198.
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2017. ‘I cover myself in the blood of Jesus’: Born Again heritage making in Sierra Leone.  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 23/3
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2016. Artist and Empire, Tate Britain. Journal of Museum Ethnography. 29/10.
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2015. Parade knife, Democratic Republic of Congo. In Jacobs, K., Knowles, C., Wingfield, C. (eds) Trophies, Relics and Curios? Missionary heritage in Africa and the Pacific.
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. & Basu, P. 2015. Contemplating Culture for Development: ‘Dysfunctional Heritage’ in Sierra Leone. In Basu, P., & Modest, W. (eds) Museums, Heritage and International Development. Routledge: Pp. 39-82.
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2014. Heritage as Future-Making: Aspiration and Common Destiny in Sierra Leone. International Journal of Heritage Studies. DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2014.973060
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2014. Fetish Modernity, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 2: 184-189.
  • Zetterström-Sharp, J. 2013. The Future of Ethnographic Museums, The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford 19-21 July 2013. Conference Review. Anthropology Today29 (6): 27.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. & Basu, P. 2014. Contemplating Culture for Development: ‘Dysfunctional Heritage’ in Sierra Leone. In Basu, P. and Modest, W. (eds) Routledge series in Culture and Development. Forthcoming.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. 2014. Rev. Lionel G. West and his ‘Congo Curios’. In Jacobs, K., Knowles, C., Wingfield, C. (eds) Trophies, Relics and Curios? Missionary heritage in Africa and the Pacific. Forthcoming.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. 2014. Review of Fetish Modernity, touring exhibition at Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. 19 October 2013 – 30 March 2014. Museum Worlds. Forthcoming.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. 2014. The Future of Ethnographic Museums. Anthropology Today 29/6: 27.