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Facilitating high-calibre research of its staff, students and visiting scholars is one of the fundamental aims of the SRU.  Aided by a specialist library, on-campus collections and a network of research collaborators in the UK and abroad, SRU research is committed to widening knowledge about the arts and cultures of Africa, the Pacific and the Americas.  

In addition to the regional specialisations, SRU research is interested in informed, cross-cultural comparisons between the different geographic regions, such as in the technology of making, objects in ritual, monuments and landscape, value and valuables, memory and ancestors, and collections/displays.  Besides the geographic reach, the research projects of staff, students and fellows often seek to transcend traditional boundaries of disciplines (such as art history, anthropology and archaeology), especially their associated forms of evidence, methods of enquiry, and theoretical perspectives.  Fieldwork in the different regions is also vital in SRU research – to develop new data and understandings while deepening familiarity/engagement with local groups, environments and materials.

For details of the research work undertaken by individual members of faculty, see their People pages.

For larger research projects that the Unit has been involved with see the Projects section.

The research of the unit generates a variety of outputs including publications, exhibitions, catalogues, conferences, symposia and lectures, aimed at both scholarly and general audiences. Members of SRU faculty also contribute with colleagues from other parts of UEA, the Sainsbury Centre, and related institutions to the editorial board of World Art Journal, a peer reviewed academic publication which 'considers art across time, place and culture' and 'encourages critical reflection at the intersections of theory, method and practice'.