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Professor of Anthropology, SOAS, University of London

Paul Basu received his PhD in Anthropology at University College London, where he was a member of the Material Culture Research Group. His doctoral research was concerned with genealogical heritage tourism and the historical imagination in the Scottish Highland diaspora. His regional specialisation has subsequently been focused in West Africa, and particularly in Sierra Leone, where he continues to work on issues around landscape, memory and cultural heritage.

Most recently Paul has been working in Nigeria, retracing the itineraries of the colonial anthropologist N. W. Thomas. Paul was Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Sussex University, before returning to UCL to take up a Readership in Material Culture and Museum Studies. He became Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Heritage at UCL prior to joining SOAS in 2015. Before becoming an anthropologist, Paul trained and worked as a filmmaker, and he continues to explore the use of different media in ethnographic research and exhibition curation.

He is currently leading a three-year AHRC-funded project entitled ‘Museum Affordances / [Re:]Entanglements’, an exploration of the violence and legacy of colonial science, particularly the anthropological surveys conducted in Nigeria and Sierra Leone between 1909 and 1915 by Britain's first government anthropologist Northcote Thomas


  • –present
    Professor of Anthropology, SOAS, University of London