SOAS University of London

Dr Stephen A. Murphy appointed as Pratapaditya Pal Senior Lecturer of Curating and Museology

7 September 2020
stephen murphy

Dr Stephen A. Murphy has been appointed as Pratapaditya Pal Senior Lecturer of Curating and Museology at SOAS.

Funded by the Alphawood Foundation, which created the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP), this is one of three endowed posts in the School of Arts. Currently based in Singapore, Stephen will join SOAS in late November 2020. 

After graduating with his PhD, which focused on Buddhism in 6th-9th century Thailand and Laos, from the Department of History of Art & Archaeology at SOAS in 2010, Stephen spent two years as a research associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, working with John Guy on organizing the international exhibition, Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia. It was this opportunity that opened the doors to the museum world for him. He is an archaeologist by training and up to that point his experience was very much in that field (literally and figuratively). His exposure to the world of museums continued with his move to Singapore and the Asian Civilisations Museum in 2013 where he became Senior Curator for Southeast Asia.

The exhibitions and galleries that he has curated over the past nine years have allowed for a broadening of his research interests. As well as still specializing in Hindu-Buddhist Southeast Asia, he now also looks at Asian maritime trade/Indian Ocean world, particularly in the mid to late first millennium CE. In terms of museology, in recent years he has been engaging more with issues surrounding colonialism/post-colonial studies and the debates surrounding the limitations and possibilities of decolonizing museums. He hopes to develop these areas of interest further in his teaching, research and publications at SOAS.

Dr Stephen A. Murphy said:

"I’m very excited to be coming onboard as the new Pratapaditya Pal Senior Lecturer of Curating and Museology. I doubt when I first walked through the doors of SOAS to start my MA at the department back in 2001 that I ever would have imagined that I’d have the opportunity to one day work here. On that note, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with those of you who knew me back in my student days and getting to know the rest of you all too. I’m particularly excited about playing a role in developing the SAAAP and welcoming the new cohort of Alphawood students when they arrive."

The academic lead of SAAAP, Professor Ashley Thompson, said:

"I am delighted to welcome Stephen to SAAAP, to the School of Arts and - back - to SOAS! With his unique archaeological expertise of first millenia Southeast Asia, his far-ranging understandings of ancient Buddhist material cultures and networks, his extensive museological experience and his generous collegiality, Stephen promises to make a strong contribution to our community in all of its complexity. Colleagues and students alike can look forward to working productively with Stephen in building our collective future."