Dr Fiona Savage nee Sheales joined us in October 2013 as the SRU 25th Anniversary Research Fellow, which runs for three years. Fiona is an alumni of the School of Art and the Sainsbury Research Unit (SRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). She gained a BA Degree (Hons) in Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History at the School of World Art and Museology (WAM) in July 2006 and successfully completed an MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the SRU in July 2007. After gaining her doctoral degree from the Sainsbury Research Unit in 2011, Fiona worked as an Assistant Curator of Fine Art at the Norwich Museum and Archaeology Service (NMAS) and most recently as Curator of West African Collections at the British Museum.
During her Fellowship with the SRU, Fiona will be revisiting her Ph.D thesis and adapting it for publication. The resulting monograph will present an inter-disciplinary analysis of the published text, imagery and collection of objects that are associated with Thomas E. Bowdich (1793-1824) and the first British trade Mission to Asante (1817). This publication will be an important addition to the growing literature on the construction and re-presentation of non-Western cultures and peoples in the era between the loss of the America colonies in the 1780s and the succession of Queen Victoria in the 1830s. Fiona will also be researching and writing journal articles that explore the systematic manipulation of sensory experiences during Akan ceremonies and conducting a survey of historically important items of Asante regalia held in public collections within the UK.
Her research interests include the early history of museums and the representation of Anglo-African encounters in pre-colonial and colonial travel literature. She is also interested in inter-cultural appropriation practices and the changing politics and poetics of African ethnographic displays in public institutions. She has recently published an on-line research catalogue on the Asante gold regalia collection at the British Museum (2012) and is in the process of publishing a companion catalogue on the Museum’s extensive collection of gold-weights (forthcoming 2014).