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A woman in a yellow top stands in front of some bamboo and smiles at the camera

Dr Sarah Byrne

Sarah Byrne is Deputy Keeper of Anthropology with a focus on Oceania.
She received her BA in Archaeology and English at the National University of Ireland, Galway (1999) and subsequently worked on archaeological projects in Ireland, UK, Australia and Papua New Guinea. As part of her MA in Artefact Studies at UCL (2002), she researched the Pacific collections amassed by Alfred Court Haddon at the Horniman Museum (1902-15). Her doctoral research (2003-2008) focused on the long-term histories of stone monuments and rock art on Uneapa Island, Papua New Guinea. After her PhD, Sarah worked in local history publishing and a number of community heritage projects including leading a National Lottery Heritage Funded oral history project. Her main research focus is on Pacific Island material culture. She has worked with the British Museum, helping co-ordinate programmes for the Melanesia Project which involved source communities visiting the collections and assessing their contemporary relevance. Before coming to the Horniman, she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at UCL researching collections from the Banks Islands (Vanuatu) in UK Museums, focusing specifically on the Melanesian Mission.

Research interests

  • Pacific ethnographic collections
  • Theories of social practice
  • Relationship between archaeology and anthropology
  • Community heritage
  • Indigenous representation in museums
  • The role of oral history in museums
  • Relationship between memory and materiality
  • Digital anthropology
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Relationship between architecture and artefact
  • Actor-network theory

Conference presentations

  • Reflections from the Field. Community Archaeology on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Emslie Horniman Day, Horniman Museum, 25/10/14.
  • The Practice and Materiality of Feasting on the Banks Islands, Vanuatu. Museum Ethnographers Group Conference, Edinburgh, 2012.
  • The Practice and Materiality of Feasting on the Banks Islands, Vanuatu. Seminar presented at the Australian Museum, 15 December 2011.
  • Voicing the Museum Object, 4 May, 2011. At Voice in (and around) the Museum (organised by Sarah Byrne and Antony Hudek), UCL, 4-25 May 2011.
  • Reassembling the Collection in Relation to Practice and Place. Paper presented at and co-chaired session: Reassembling the Collection: Indigenous Agency and Ethnographic Collections at the School for Advanced Research on the Human Experience, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 26-30 September 2010.
  • Animate Objects: A.C. Haddon at the Horniman Museum 1902-1915. Paper presented at and co-chaired session Unpacking the Collection: Museums Identity and Agency, World Archaeological Congress 6, Dublin, 29 June- 4 July 2008.
  • Practice makes Perfect sense: A Social Interpretation of Uneapa Island’s monumentality, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Paper presented at the Centre of Archaeology Research (CAR) Seminar Series, Australian National University, 24th November 2006.
  • Practice makes Perfect sense: A Social Interpretation of Uneapa Island’s monumentality, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Paper presented at the Australian Museum Student Seminars, 22nd November 2006.
  • Tangible v’s Intangible Heritage- A suitable dichotomy for archaeological research on Uneapa Island? Paper presented at the 7th Cambridge Heritage Seminar: Intangible-Tangible Cultural Heritage: A Sustainable Dichotomy? McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, 13 May 2006.
  • Community Archaeology: Perspectives following research on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Handout presented (in absentia) to the WAC Second Indigenous Inter-Congress November, Auckland, 8-12 December, 2005.
  • Movement, memories and meaning: A biography of Uneapa’s monumental landscape in a post-contact context. Paper presented at Global Perspectives on the Archaeology of Islands- International Conference, Auckland, 8-11 Dec 2004.
  • Postprocessualism and monuments: Insights from recent research on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Paper presented at the Sydney University Archaeology Research Seminar Series, September 2004.

Publications

  • Byrne, S. 2013. Rock Art as Material Culture: A Case Study on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Archaeology in Oceania, 48: 63–77.
  • Harrison, R. Byrne, S., Clarke, A. (eds.) 2013. Reassembling the Collection: Ethnographic Museums and Indigenous Agency. SAR Press, New Mexico.
  • Byrne, S. 2013.  Exposing the ‘heart’ of the museum- the archaeological sensibility in the storeroom. In Reassembling the Collection: Ethnographic Museums and Indigenous Agency. SAR Press, New Mexico.
  • Byrne, S. 2012. Voicing the Museum Artefact. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies. 10(1): 23-34.
  • Byrne, S. and Hudek, A. 2012. Voice in the Museum. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies. 10 (1).
  • Byrne, S. March 2012. Community Archaeology as Knowledge Management: Reflections from Uneapa Island, Papua New Guinea. Public Archaeology, 11 (1): 26-52.
  • Byrne, S., Clarke, A., Harrison, R. and Torrence, R. (eds.) 2011. Unpacking the collection: Networks of Material and Social Agency in the Museum, One World Archaeology Series, Springer.
  • Byrne, S., Clarke, A., Harrison, R. and Torrence, R. (eds.) 2011. Networks, Agents and Objects: Frameworks for Unpacking Museum Collections, In Unpacking the collection: Networks of Material and Social Agency in the Museum, pp. 3-26.
  • Byrne, S. 2011. Trials and Traces: A. C. Haddon’s Agency as Museum Curator . In Unpacking the collection: Networks of Material and Social Agency in the Museum, pp. 306-25. One World Archaeology Series, Springer.
  • Byrne, S., 2005. Recent Survey and Excavation of the Monumental Complexes on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Papers of the Institute of Archaeology, 16:95-102.

Editorial

  • 2014 - present: Editor, The Journal of Museum Ethnography
  • 2011- 2014: Gallery and Exhibitions Editor, The Journal of Museum Ethnography.