Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and Honorary Curatorial Fellow, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Alison is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, where she also holds an honorary Curatorial Fellowship with the University Museums. She studied history at the University of Aberdeen as an undergraduate, and then did a postgraduate diploma in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She then went to the University of Cambridge University, where she earned MPhil in Social Anthropology, and then to the University of Oxford, where she read for her D.Phil. in Social Anthropology.
Since 1998, she has carried out fieldwork on the Canadian Prairies, primarily with the Blackfoot nations of Siksika, Piikani and Kainai, on projects concerning representation, access and the revival of cultural histories using museum collections as a focus. She has also worked on fur trade material culture in Scottish museums and family homes which involved archival work in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as well as fieldwork in northern Manitoba, northern Scotland and Orkney.
From 2013-2015 she ran a Leverhulme Trust-funded International Network project: "Blackfoot Collections in UK Museums," which involved a partnership with Siksika, Piikani, Kainai, and Blackfeet colleagues, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. In 2015 she began a three-year research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, "Narrative Objects: The Sakha Summer Festival and Cultural Revitalization," with University of Aberdeen colleague, Tatiana Argounova-Low. This research has focused on a unique mammoth ivory model of ysyakh, the Sakha summer festival, housed in British Museum. In 2015 the model was loaned to the National Museum of the Arts, Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Yakutiia), Russian Federation, for an exhibition called “Century Long Journey”, where it became the focus for a range of responses from local people. As the project develops it will include working directly with artists, cultural specialists, and art historians to explore issues related to cultural revitalization, narrative and silence. A further aspect of the project will involve outreach work with inter-generational audiences at the British Museum. The project website at www.abdn.ac.uk/ysyakh includes details about the initiative and its outcomes.
Before returning home to Aberdeen, Alison held curatorial and research positions in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and she was Research Manager for Human History at Glasgow Museums during the period of the renovation of Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.