Clare Harris (Fall 2014)

Professor Clare Harris from Oxford University will be the fall GLASS visiting scholar (December 9-11, 2014).


9 December
GLASS Lecture - Remembering to Forget in Contemporary Tibet: Presenting the Potala Palace as 'Heritage'
Gravensteen, rm 11

10 December
GLASS Masterclass (apply)
1-4pm (tentative)
Center for Material Culture Research
Museum Volkenkunde

11 December
GLASS Faculty Roundtable
Gravensteen, rm 11

Clare Harris is Professor of Visual Anthropology and Pitt Rivers Museum Curator for Asian Collections at the University of Oxford. Prior to that she was lecturer in the Anthropology of Art at the School of World Art Studies, University of East Anglia. She trained at the universities of Cambridge and London (School of Oriental and African Studies).

From the age of 18, when she worked as an English teacher in a school for Tibetan refugees in the foothills of the Himalayas in India, Clare has had a passionate interest in India and Tibet. Since then, she has travelled to India repeatedly and has also conducted research in the Tibetan-speaking regions of the People’s Republic of China, Nepal and the globally dispersed Tibetan diaspora.  Her research primarily focuses on visual and material culture in those areas using theories and methods derived from anthropology, art history and museology. Following multiple research trips to the Himalayas in the early 1990s, she wrote In the Image of Tibet (1999), the first study of ‘modern’ Tibetan art. It won the jury prize for best book in Visual Anthropology from the International Centre for Ethnohistory in 2000. Her fieldwork in the Western Himalayan region of Ladakh also led to a co-edited book. A second strand of Clare’s research is more closely connected to her curatorial role at the Pitt Rivers Museum and to working with historic objects and archives. She has created exhibitions such as ‘Seeing Lhasa’ (Pitt Rivers Museum 2003) and ‘Generation Exile’ (Hanart, Hong Kong, 2011) and directed collections-based research activities, such as the AHRC-funded ‘Tibetan Visual History’ project from whichThe Tibet Album website was produced. The website, featuring 6000 photographs of Tibet taken before 1950, was launched by the 14th Dalai Lama in May 2008. Further examples of Clare’s engagement with photography in and of Tibet can be found in the book Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital (2003) and several articles. For her new monograph, The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet Clare combined the two approaches mentioned above – fieldwork in contemporary Tibetan communities and the detailed analysis of museums and their contents - to make a powerful argument about old and new forms of colonialism and their impact on the representation of Tibet in museums, photography and art from the mid-19th century to the present day. The foundations of this book were established when she was awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship in 2006-2007.

Clare continues to investigate many of the topics described above and they often feature in her teaching, curatorship, talks, conference papers and publications. Research projects currently underway include: preparation for a new book on Tibet and photography, ongoing ‘participant observation’ in the burgeoning field of ‘Tibetan Contemporary Art’ and an innovative study of the visual and material cultures of British colonialism in Himalayan hill stations. An edited volume based on The Future of Ethnographic Museums conference that she convened with Michael O’Hanlon in July 2013 is also in development.

Clare has given many talks for the public and has appeared on BBC radio 3 and 4.

Selected Publications

2012  The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics and the Representation of Tibet, University of Chicago Press.

2005  Ladakh: Culture at the Crossroads Marg Publications, Mumbai, India (co-edited with Monisha Ahmed, (and reprinted by Marg in 2010).

2003  Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936 – 1947. Serindia Publications, Chicago, USA (co-authored with Tsering Shakya)

1999  In the Image of Tibet: Tibetan Painting after 1959, Reaktion Books, London.

Articles and Chapters
2014  ‘Digital Dilemmas: The Ethnographic Museum as Distributive Institution’ in Beyond Modernity: Do Ethnographic Museums need Ethnography?", Vito Lattanzi, Sandra Ferracuti, Elisabetta Frasca (Eds), Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "Luigi Pigorini", Rome - Espera Libreria Archeologica: Rome.

2013  ‘The Potala Palace: Remembering to Forget in Contemporary Tibet’, in South Asian Studies Journal, Vol. 29. No.1, pp 97 – 111

2013  ‘The Future of the Ethnographic Museum’ (with Mike O’Hanlon), Anthropology Today, Vol. 29. No.1, pp. 8-12.

2013  ‘In and Out of Place: Tibetan Artists’ Travels in the Contemporary Art World’ Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 28, Issue 2, pp 152 - 163.

2008  ‘The Creation of a Tibetan Modernist: The Painting of Gonkar Gyatso’ in Elizabeth Edwards and Kaushik Bhaumik (Eds.) Visual Sense: A Cultural Reader Berg, Oxford and New York, pp. 351 - 358.

2007  ‘British and German Photography in Tibet in the 1930s: The Diplomatic, the Ethnographic, and Other Modes’ in Isrun Engelhardt  (Ed.) Tibet in 1938-1939: Photographs from the Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, Serindia Publications, Chicago, pp 73 – 90.

2007  ‘The Buddha Goes Global: some thoughts towards a transnational art history’ in Location Deborah Cherry and Fintan Cullen (Eds.) Blackwells, Oxford, pp. 166-188.

2004  ‘The Photograph Reincarnate: The Dynamics of Tibetan Relationships with Photographs’ in Photographs Objects Histories, Elizabeth Edwards and Janice Hart (Eds.) Routledge, London, UK, pp. 132 – 147.

2003  ‘Seeing Lhasa: British Photographic and Filmic Engagement with Tibet’ in Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936 – 1947, Clare Harris and Tsering Shakya, Serindia Publications, Chicago, USA, pp. 1 - 76.

2001  ‘The Politics and Personhood of Tibetan Buddhist Icons’ in Beyond Aesthetics: Art and the Technologies of Enchantment Christopher Pinney and Nicholas Thomas (Eds.), Berg, London, UK, pp. 181 -199.

Last Modified: 17-11-2014