Asia and Africa On Display

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1 or Year 2
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History of Art and Archaeology & School of Arts

Module overview

This module will complement the aims and objectives of the MA Curating Cultures degree by providing teaching which focuses on the physical spaces for works of art/artefacts across cultures.

It will also be object based, providing students studying any region with transferable skills. It will further use a wide range of displayed objects, including those in SOAS collections and the Brunei Gallery as the primary teaching resource.

It will thus provide students of the MA Curating Cultures programme with direct experience of diverse contemporary and historical display practices in museums, galleries and commercial spaces, as well as digital modes of display.

Objectives and learning outcomes

The aims and objectives of this course are: 

  • To enable students to develop an understanding of the methods, practices and key issues associated with the presentation of objects from outside the European tradition in transcultural museum spaces.
  • To introduce students to critical approaches to object analysis and exhibition development.
  • To provide an environment in which students can consider and evaluate the concepts and language of cultural representation.
  • To enable students to consider the historic reception of non-Western visual culture in Europe.
  • To encourage students to develop their own research and professional interests in the area of Asian and African art/visual culture.

At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes

  • The development of object analysis and interpretation skills.
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of critical concepts of reception, presentation and transculturation.
  • An understanding of issues associated with culturally defined categories of objects.
  • An ability to evaluate critically museum exhibitions and their interpretative frameworks.


  • 3-hours per week.

Method of assessment

  • One 1,000-word display report (worth 40%)
  • One 2,000-word research essay (worth 60%)

Suggested reading

  • Barker, E (ed) (1999) Contemporary Cultures of Display, Yale: Yale University Press.
  • Carbonell, B. M. (2004) Museum studies: an anthology of contexts, Oxford: Blackwell. 
  • Greenberg, R., Ferguson, B. W., and Nairne, S. (eds) (1996) Thinking about exhibitions, London: Routledge.
  • Karp and Lavine (eds.) (1991) Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Washington: Smithsonian.
  • Kreps, C. (2003) Liberating culture: cross-cultural perspectives on museum, curation and heritage preservation, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Macdonald, S.  (ed) (2006) A Companion to Museum Studies, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Macdonald and Basu (eds) (2007) Exhibition Experiments, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Marstine, Janet (ed.). (2010) New museum theory and practice. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Obrist, H. (ed) (2008) A Brief History of Curating, Zurich: JRP/Ringier.
  • Pearce, S (ed.) (1994) Interpreting objects & collections, Leicester: Leicester University Press.
  • Preziosi and Farago (eds) (2004) Grasping the world: the idea of the museum, Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Vergo, Peter (ed.) (1989). The New Museology. London: Reaktion.
  • Museums and Society
  • Museums Journal
  • Journal of the History of Collections
  • Journal of Material Culture
  • Journal of Museum Ethnography
  • The Metropolitan Museum collection of out-of-print catalogues online for free via the MetPublications database.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.