I joined the University of York as Anniversary Professor in September 2012, having previously held Professorships at the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield. As well as Anthropology, my interests include Museology, Cultural Heritage and Memory Studies, and Cultural Sociology. My enjoyment of working across disciplines was fostered by my undergraduate degree in Human Sciences – a mix of Social and Natural Sciences – at Oxford; and this is also the basis of my longstanding interest in cultural dimensions of science. I have carried out anthropological fieldwork in Scotland, England and Germany, and exploratory comparative research in China. My work has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
My post at York is part-time, primarily to work on the research project Curating Profusion. My main employment is in the the Institute of European Ethnology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. There I hold an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship as Professor of Social Anthropology (with special emphasis on cultural heritage and museum studies).
My research examines ongoing social and cultural changes. Mostly, I do this by coupling a specific focus - based on ethnographic fieldwork - with analysis of more widespread developments. By doing so, I seek to find out what is going on in the detail of practice, including the reflections of those I am researching. I draw on this to challenge or refine the assumptions of existing theorising.
These concerns and approaches have been reflected in a range of different research projects over the years. Though as an anthropologist, I often return to earlier themes and research areas.
Summary of research areas:
- Cultural heritage, memory, identity, difficult history
- Museums, museology, material culture, design
- Identities - especially European
- Tourism, cities, architecture
- Science as culture
- Anthropological and cultural theory
This examines how, in the face of an enormous quantity of 'stuff' and information, individuals, households and museums encourage some things to persist into the future and allow others to be discarded? The research is part of an AHRC funded research programme called Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage that is concerned with looking at 'heritage' beyond its usual confines to consider how the archive for what will in future be available to be heritage is shaped. It focuses upon the making of heritage in the face of key social and environmental challenges and is a beacon programme of the AHRC's Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past.
I am no longer taking on any new PhD supervision.
NEW: With Helen Rees Leahy I am general editor of the International Handbooks of Museum Studies. The following four substantial state-of-the-art volumes were published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2015.
- Museum Theory, eds Andrea Witcomb and Kylie Message
- Museum Practice, ed. Conal McCarthy
- Museum Media, ed. Michelle Henning
- Museum Transformations, eds Annie Coombes and Ruth Phillips
Please note: links to articles and chapters are provided under terms of fair academic use and not for redistribtion.
Selected books and journal special issues
- Macdonald, Sharon. Memorylands. Heritage and Identity in Europe Today. Oxford, New York: Routledge, 2013. Excerpts from Memorylands (PDF , 1,942kb)
- Macdonald, Sharon. Difficult Heritage. Oxford, New York: Routledge, 2009. Excerpts from Difficult Heritage (PDF , 795kb)
- Macdonald, Sharon & Basu, Paul. ed. Exhibition Experiments. New Interventions in Art History. Malden, USA; Oxford, UK; Victoria, Canada: Blackwell, 2007. Read its Introduction: experiments in exhibition, ethnography, art and science (PDF , 491kb).
- Macdonald, Sharon. Companion to Museum Studies. Companions in Cultural Studies. Malden, USA; Oxford, UK; Victoria, Canada: Blackwell, 2006. Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Greek translation published 2013.Excerpts from Companion (PDF , 862kb)
- Hautaniemi, Perti, Jerman, Helena & Macdonald, Sharon. ed. Anthropological Perspectives on Social Memory. Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures. Berlin etc: LIT, 2006.
- Macdonald, Sharon. ed. Materializing Sheffield: Place, Culture, Identity, Sheffield. Sheffield: Humanities Research Institute, 2006
- Edwards, Jeanette, Macdonald, Sharon & Savage, Mike. Edwards, Jeanette, Macdonald, Sharon & Savage, Mike. eds. Community, continuity and change in the study of Britain. 53(4), Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.Community, continuity and change in the study of Britain (PDF , 81kb)
- Macdonald, Sharon. Behind the Scenes at the Science Museum. Berg, 2002. Read theTaster to Behind the Scenes (PDF , 4,703kb)
- Macdonald, Sharon with Fausser, Katia. Approaches to European Historical Consciousness. Hamburg: Körber Foundation, 2000.
- Macdonald, Sharon. The Politics of Display. London: Routledge, 1998.
- Macdonald, Sharon. Reimagining Culture. Oxford: Berg, 1997. Shortlisted for Kathryn Briggs Folklore Prize.
- Macdonald, Sharon & Fyfe, Gordon. eds. Theorizing Museums. Sociological Review Monographs. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.
- Sharon Macdonald 2014 ‘Migrating heritage, networks and networking: Europe and Islamic heritage’, in P.Innocenti (ed.) Migrating Heritage: Experiences of Cultural Networks and Dialogues in Europe, Farnham: Ashgate, pp.53-64.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2012, ‘Presencing Europe’s pasts’, in Ulrich Kockel, Mairead NicCraith and Jonas Frykman, (eds), Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of Europe, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 233-52
- Sharon Macdonald, 2012 Vom Leben im Kleinem: Du schon wieder (PDF , 183kb), Kulturaustausch, 11/12: 24-5
- Sharon Macdonald, 2011, 'The Shop. Multiple Economies of Things in Museums (PDF , 618kb), in Friedrich von Bose, Kerstin Poehls, Franka Schneider and Annett Schulze (eds), MuseumX. Zur Neuvermessung eines mehrdimensionalen Raumes, Berliner Blätter/Panama, pp. 37-48.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2011, Ex-siting and Insighting: ethnographic engagements with place and community (PDF , 123kb), in Gisela Welz, Tonia Davidovic-Walther and Anke S.Weber (eds), Epistemische Orte. Gemeinde und Region als Forschungsformate, Frankfurt: Institut für Kulturantropolgie und Europaeische Ethnologie, pp. 29-43.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2009, Reassembling Nuremberg, reassembling heritage (PDF , 502kb), Journal of Cultural Economy, 2, nos. 1-2, pp. 117–34.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2009, Unsettling memories. Intervention and controversy over difficult public heritage (PDF , 155kb), in Marta Anico and Elsa Peralta, (eds), Heritage and Identity. Engagement and Demission in the Contemporary World, London: Routledge, pp. 93–104.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2009, Making ethics (PDF , 205kb), in M. Melhuus, J. Mitchell and H. Wulff, (eds), Ethnographic Practice in the Present, Oxford: Berghahn (EASA series), pp. 80–94.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2008, ‘Museum Europe. Negotiating heritage (PDF , 120kb)’, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 17, pp. 47–65.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2008, Memory, materiality and tourism (PDF , 504kb), in Birgit Braasch, (ed.), Major Concepts in Tourism Research – Memory, CTCC Research Papers, pp. 3–11, online: www.tourism-culture.com/ctcc_research_papers.html.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2007, Interconnecting: museum visiting and exhibition design (PDF , 154kb), CoDesign, 3, no. 1, pp. 149–62; reprinted as ‘Museumsbesuch und Ausstellungsdesign’ in D. Harrasser et al., (eds), Wissen Spielen, Bielefeld: Transcript, 2011, pp. 237–59.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2007, Changing cultures, changing rooms: fashioning identities (PDF , 110kb), in D. Bryceson, J. Okely and J. Webber, (eds),Fashioning Identities and Weaving Networks: Gender and Ethnicity in a Cross-Cultural Context, Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 21–37.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2006, ‘Mediating heritage (PDF , 399kb)’, Tourist Studies, 6, no. 2, pp. 119–38.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2006, Words in stone? Agency and identity in a Nazi landscape (PDF , 330kb), Journal of Material Culture, 11, nos. 1–2, pp. 105–26.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2006, Undesirable heritage (PDF , 154kb) International Journal of Heritage Research, 12, no. 1, pp. 9–28.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2005, ‘Accessing audiences: visiting visitor books’, Museum and Society, 3, no. 3, pp. 119–36.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2005, ‘Commemorating the Holocaust. Reconfiguring national identity in the twenty-first (PDF , 1,369kb), in J. Littler and R. Naidoo, (eds), The Politics of Heritage: The Legacies of Race, London: Routledge, pp. 49–68.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2003, ‘Museums, national, postnational and transcultural identities’, Museum and Society, 1, no. 1, pp. 1–16.
- Sharon Macdonald, 2001, ‘Ethnography in the Science Museum (PDF , 4,775kb)’, in D. N. Gellner and E. Hirsch, (eds) Inside Organizations: Anthropologists at Work, Oxford and New York: Berg, 2001, pp. 77–96.