Sharon Macdonald

© Tal Adler

CARMAH members’ portraits were captured in March 2017, on the ‘New55 PN’ – a new handmade instant film for large format, 4”x5” cameras. This film was launched through crowdfunding in 2014 as a reinvention of the discontinued, legendary ‘Type 55’ by Polaroid. Since the sixties, Polaroid’s unique ‘Type 55’ starred in many artists’ and professional photographers’ projects. ‘Type 55’ provided both an instant print and a superb negative from which more (and larger) prints could be made. Like so many photographic material in the last 10-15 years, ‘Type 55’ was discontinued in 2009. Tal Adler decided to use the ‘New55 PN’ not only for its beautiful quality but also to reflect, and participate in, the revival of (photographic) heritage.

I came to Berlin as an Alexander von Humboldt Professor and founded CARMAH in 2015. I have wide-ranging research interests, with a major focus on museums and heritage, which is the focus of my W3 Professorship in Social Anthropology. I have carried out anthropological fieldwork in Europe, especially Germany, and also in China. My work has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition to CARMAH, I direct the Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, and also have membership in the Institute of European Ethnology. I hold Honorary Professorships in the Department of Sociology at the University of York and in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, and am a Research Affiliate of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University. In 2023 I will take up a visiting professorship at Tsinghua University. In 2024, together with Professor Eva Ehninger in Bild- und Kunst-Geschichte, I will launch a new Käte Hamburger Kolleg: InHerit: Heritage in Transformation.

I currently serve on the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Association; and the Academic Committee of the House of European History.

Current and recent projects on which I am or was PI include: Making Differences. Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st Century; Matters of Activity. Image, Space, Material; Curating Digital Images; and Challenging Populist Truth-Making in Europe (CHAPTER); the Contentious Collections Work Package of the Horizon 2020 TRACES (Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritage with the Arts) project (2016-2019); and the Profusion theme of the AHRC-funded Heritage Futures project (2015-2019).

Academic Biography

I studied Human Sciences – a mix of natural and social sciences – at the University of Oxford as an undergraduate, something that I credit for my enjoyment of working across disciplinary boundaries. I then trained further in Social Anthropology, also at Oxford, doing anthropological fieldwork on the Isle of Skye for my DPhil. Supervised by Edwin Ardener, I looked at the revival of Gaelic language and culture, probing reflexively into questions such as how the very notion of culture is formed.  Looking at the Gaelic revival took me into questions of how culture and identity are imagined and realised, as well as of nationalism and ethnonationalism.  It also prompted me to look at other parts of Europe and at how Europe itself is variously conceived and experienced. These are themes that have stayed with me throughout my career, and that I have explored through various projects and in many publications.

Museums are thoroughly implicated in these themes. My direct introduction into this area came from a different direction, however. This was a post-doc project in the Centre for Research into Innovation, Culture and Technology, at Brunel University, for which I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in the Science Museum, London. It got me hooked on museums and since then I have gone on to look at various kinds of museums and to try to develop the methodological and theoretical approaches to museums through a series of publishing projects. A lot of this work is also public anthropology – variously involving speaking in wider public contexts, as well as working collaboratively with museums and heritage organisations.

My major publications alternate between in-depth monographs based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork and wider synthetic, usually edited, works that seek to set out a broader analysis. In real life I am usually trying to juggle doing both of these at once. The ethnographic monographs are all also works of theorising, with implications far wider than their specific topics. Mostly they work in terms of trying to examine at a detailed level what I see as some broad cultural change, in order to throw new light on its dynamics and how it is experienced and remade in practice. Broad changes that I have looked at in this way include the revival of traditional culture and minority languages, the consumerisation of public culture, the turn to publicly showing a country’s own history of perpetration, and the ‘memory boom’. The close-up view not only shows complexity but also reveals assumptions that are rarely perceived by participants but also often overlooked by theory too. The work thus illuminates other ways of seeing that can change the usual academic as well as popular understandings.

I have worked as a full-time lecturer from fairly early in my career, and so have also amassed many years of teaching experience and have had the privilege to work with many great colleagues and to supervise some excellent PhDs. My first full-time, non-temporary post was in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the University of Keele, where I learned a great deal from other colleagues, especially in the fields of culture and science studies. After six years there, I then spent ten years in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield, where in 2005 I was awarded a Personal Chair. My experience in Sheffield honed my thinking about identities, nations and material culture further, as well as making me more aware of the critical politics of difference. Supported by an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, which I held at the Universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, I undertook research that resulted in Difficult Heritage: Negotiating the Nazi Past in Nuremberg and Beyond.

In 2006 I took up a Professorship in Social Anthropology at Manchester University, where I remained until 2012, learning an enormous amount from my brilliant colleagues. I was then appointed to a prestigious Anniversary Professorship at the University of York, where I joined the Department of Sociology. That interstice between Social Anthropology and Sociology is one of my favourite intellectual places. On leaving, to take up an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, I was appointed to an Honorary Professorship at York. I have a research interest in China, where I have held a Visiting Professorship in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Peking University.


Publications 2023

Sharon Macdonald (ed.) 2023 Doing Diversity in Museums and Heritage. A Berlin Ethnography, Bielefeld: Transcript.

Publications 2022

Sharon Macdonald 2022 ‘Why museums should talk rubbish!’, in Christine Dupont et al. (eds) Throwaway! A European History of Waste, pp.15-24. Brussels: House of European History.

Sharon Macdonald 2022 ‘Immersion, impersonation and engagement in dangerous pasts. Limits, effects and ethics of immersive heritage experiences’. In Agiati Bernadou and Anna Maria Droumpouki (eds) Difficult Heritage and Immersive Experiences, London: Routledge.

Sharon Macdonald 2022 ’Sighting the dust. Attending to the museum through its residues’. In Nina Samuel & Felix Sattler (eds) Museale Reste, Bildwelten des Wissens, Band 18. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp.11-23.

Publications 2021 
Sharon Macdonald (2021). ‘Contentious collections, contentious heritage. Risks and potentials of opening Europe’s memory banks’. In: Marion Hamm and Klaus Schönberger (eds.). Contentious Heritage and the Arts: A Critical Companion, pp.95-127. Klagenfurt: Wieser Verlag.

Katarzyna Puzon, Sharon Macdonald and Mirjam Shatanawi (eds) (2021), Islam and Heritage in Europe: Pasts, Presents and Future Possibilities. London and New York: Routledge.

Mirjam Shatanawi, Sharon Macdonald and Katarzyna Puzon (2021) ‘Heritage, Islam, Europe. Entanglements and directions. An introduction’. In: Katarzyna Puzon, Sharon Macdonald and Mirjam Shatanawi (eds) (2021), Islam and Heritage in Europe: Pasts, Presents and Future Possibilities, pp.1-28. London and New York: Routledge.

Sharon Macdonald, Christine Gerbich, Rikke Gram, Katarzyna Puzon and Mirjam Shatanawi (2021) ‘Reframing Islam? Potentials and challenges of participatory initiatives in museums and heritage’. In: Mirjam Shatanawi, Sharon Macdonald and Katarzyna Puzon (2021). In: Katarzyna Puzon, Sharon Macdonald and Mirjam Shatanawi (eds) (2021), Islam and Heritage in Europe: Pasts, Presents and Future Possibilities, pp.202-220. London and New York: Routledge.

Christoph Bareither, Sharon Macdonald, Elke Greifeneder, Katharina Geis, Sarah Ullrich and Vera Hillebrand 2021 ‘Curating digital images. Ethnographic perspectives on the affordances of digital images in museum and heritage contexts’, DAHJ, special issue The Digital Image, 1: 82-98.

Jennie Morgan and Sharon Macdonald (2021) ‘Faire décroitre les collections pour le patrimoine du futur’. Culture & Musées, 37: 163-96.

Sharon Macdonald 2021 ‘Seven modes of museum forgetting’, in Iris Edenheiser, Elisabeth Tietmeyer & Susanne Boersma (eds) What’s Missing? Collecting and Exhibiting Europe, pp.234-40. Berlin: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz; Reimer Verlag.


Publications 2020 

Sharon Macdonald (2020). Re-worlding the museum. Or the museum for possible futures. In: schnittpunkt and Joachim Baur (eds) Das Museum der Zukunft.The Museum of the Future, pp-189-94, Bielefeld: transcript.

Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald, Nadia Bartolini, Esther Breithoff, Harald Fredheim, Antony Lyons, Sarah May, Jennie Morgan and Sefryn Penrose (2020). Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices. London: UCL Press.

Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf and Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘For ever, for everyone…’. In: Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, pp.3–19. London: UCL Press.

Sharon Macdonald, Jennie Morgan and Harald Fredheim (2020). ‘Too many things to keep for the future?’. In: Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, pp. 155–68. London: UCL Press.

Harald Fredheim, Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan (2020). ‘Curating museum profusion’. In: Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, pp. 169–89. London: UCL Press.

Jennie Morgan and Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘Curating domestic profusion’. In: Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, pp.202–222. London: UCL Press.

Sharon Macdonald, Jennie Morgan and Harald Fredheim (2020). ‘Doomed?’ In: Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, pp.238-48. London: UCL Press.

Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. (2020). ‘Discussion and conclusions’. In: Rodney Harrison, Caitlin DeSilvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald et al. Heritage Futures. Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, pp.265-88. London: UCL Press.

Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘Laying the foundations of the anthropology of Europe. An ethnography of culture theory’. Epilogue in the new edition of Michael Herzfeld: Ours Once More. Folklore, Ideology and the Making of Modern Greece, pp.143-50. Oxford: Berghahn.

Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘Awakening sleeping objects’. In: Dictionary of Now (‘Thing’ section). Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘Transforming the ethnographic: anthropological articulations in museum and heritage research’. In: Margareta von Oswald and Jonas Tinius (eds.). Across Anthropology. Troubling Colonial Legacies, Museums, and the Curatorial, pp.47-60. Leuven: Leuven University Press (Open Access).

Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘Immersed in the Nazi past: limits, risks and approaches in the mediation of dangerous histories’. In: Christoph Bareither and Ingrid Tomkowiak (eds.). Mediated Pasts – Popular Pleasures. Medien und Praktiken populärkulturellen Erinnerns, pp. 31–40. Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann.

Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy (managing eds.) (2020). International Handbooks of Museum Studies, 4 volumes (new paperback editions). New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sharon Macdonald (2020). Kultur ist nicht nur eine historische Sammlung, sondern Teil eines fortlaufenden Gesprächs. In Sabine Benzer (ed.). Kulturelles Erbe. Was uns wichtig ist!, pp.63-77, Wien: Folio Verlag.

Jennie Morgan and Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘Degrowing museum collections for new heritage futures’. In: International Journal of Heritage Studies, 26(1): 56–70.

Jonas Tinius and Sharon Macdonald (2020). ‘The recursivity of the curatorial’. In: Roger Sansi (ed.). The Anthropologist as Curator, pp. 35–57, London: Bloomsbury.


Publications 2019

Jan-Jonathan Bock and Sharon Macdonald (2019) eds. Refugees Welcome? Difference and Diversity in a Changing GermanyOxford: Berghahn.

Jan-Jonathan Bock and Sharon Macdonald (2019) ‘Refugees welcome? Making, experiencing and managing difference in a changing Germany‘, pp.1-38, in J-J Bock and S.Macdonald (eds) Refugees Welcome? Difference and Diversity in a Changing Germany, Oxford: Berghahn.

Macdonald, Sharon (2019) ‘Refugee futures and the politics of difference’, pp.311-331, in J-J Bock and S.Macdonald (eds) Refugees Welcome? Difference and Diversity in a Changing Germany, Oxford: Berghahn.

Sharon Macdonald (2019). ‘Heritage Traces, Differences, and Futures: New Research Approaches to Heritage and Society‘. In: Robert Kusek and Jacek Purchla (eds), ‘Heritage and Society’ (Heritology series). Krakow: International Cultural Centre: pp. 25-41.

Sharon Macdonald (2019). ‘Researching Ethnographic Museums in Europe‘. In: Edenheiser, Iris and Larissa Förster (eds.): Museumsethnologie – Eine Einführung. Theorien – Debatten – Praktiken. Berlin: Dieter Reimer Verlag: pp. 360-70.

Sharon Macdonald 2019 ‘Awakening sleeping objects’, in Bernd Scherer, Olga von Schubert and Stefan Aue (eds) Wörterbuch der Gegenwart. 100 Years of Now, Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Sharon Macdonald (2019). ‘Review Article. Materializing creationism in the United States‘. In: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 25(3): pp. 606-608.

Sharon Macdonald (2019). ‘reframing islam in the “refugee crisis”?’ In: Material Religion, 15(3): pp. 378-9.

Sharon Macdonald (2019). ‘Wie Museen vergessen. Sieben Weisen‘ In: ‘Vergessen. Warum wir nicht alles erinnern’ Alley, Jasmin and Wettengl, Kurt (eds.), pp. 182 – 187; 214. Historisches Museum Frankfurt: Michael Imhof Verlag. Also published in Arsprototo. Kontexte des Erinnerns 2019, 1: 20-24.


Publications 2018 

Harald Fredheim, Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan (2018). ‘Profusion in Museums – A Report on Contemporary Collecting and Disposal‘, York: University of York.

Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan (2018) ‘What not to collect? Post-coinnoisseurial dystopia and the profusion of things’, pp.29-43, in P.Schorch and C.McCarthy (eds) Curatopia. Museums and the Future of Curatorship, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Sharon Macdonald (2018) ‘Heritage’, in H.Callan (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, Wiley-Blackwell.

Sharon Macdonald, Christine Gerbich and Margareta von Oswald (2018) ‘No museum is an island: ethnography beyond methodological containerism‘, Museum and Society

Sharon Macdonald (2018) ‘Introduction’, in CARMAH Otherwise. Rethinking Museums and Heritage, CARMAH Research Paper #, pp.3-15.

Sharon Macdonald (2018) ‘Endorsement effects and warning potentials. Architecture from Totalitarian eras as heritage’, in Håkan ˙Hökerberg (ed.) Architecture as Propaganda in Twentieth-Century Totalitarian Regimes. History and Heritage. Florence: Polistampa.

Sharon Macdonald and Fang Lili (2018) ‘Heritage, Change and the “Second Generation” Phenomenon. Traditional craft and Revitalization in Jingdezhen’, CARMAH Reflection.

Sharon Macdonald & Jennie Morgan (2018), in Regine Falkenberg, Thomas Jander (eds.) ‘Assessment of Significance.’ Berlin: Deutsches Historisches Museum, pp. 20 – 26. How can we know the future? Uncertainty, transformation, and magical techniques of significance assessment in museum collecting.


Publications 2017

Henrietta Lidchi, Sharon Macdonald and Margareta von Oswald (eds) (2017) Engaging Anthropological Legacies, special section of Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 5.

Sharon Macdonald, Henrietta Lidchi and Margareta von Oswald (2017) ‘Introduction. Engaging anthropological legacies toward cosmo-optimistic futures?‘, in Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 5: 97-109.

Sharon Macdonald 2017 ‘Why has China’s National Museum of Ethnology still not been completed, decades since its founding? Or why such a museum should be!’, CARMAH Reflection.

Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan 2017 ‘Perspectives on disposal: decluttering‘, Collections Trust website.

Sharon Macdonald 2017 ‘Was ist eine Ausstellung und warum besuchen wir sie? Der kuratorische Blick von Studierenden’. In F.Stuhl, H.Bredekamp und W.Schäffner (Hg.) +ultra gestaltung schafft wissen. Dokumentation der Ausstellung und ihrer partizipationen Vermittlungsformate, S. 67-70. Berlin: Waxman.

Sharon Macdonald 2017 ‘Embedded ethics and research integrity: a response to “The quest for generic ethics principles in social science research” by David Carpenter’, in Finding Common Ground. Consensus in Research Ethics across the Social Sciences. Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity, 1: 29-36.


Publications 2016

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘Is difficult heritage still difficult? Why public acknowledgement of past perpetration may no longer be so unsettling to collective identities’, in Museum International 67 (1-4): 6-22.

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘New constellations of difference in Europe’s 21st Century Museumscape’, Museum Anthropology, 39(1): 4-19.

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘Exhibiting contentious and difficult histories. Ethics, emotions and reflexivity’, in Bernice L.Murphy (ed.) Museums, Ethics and Cultural Heritage, London: Routledge (ICOM publication), pp.267-77.

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘Revolutions, turns and developments in museum education: some anthropological and museological reflections’, in B.Commandeur, H.Kunz-Ott and K.Schad (eds) Handbuch Museumspädagogik. Kulturelle Bildung in Museen, Munich: Kopaed, pp.95-105.

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘La médiation du patrimoine: les guides touristiques de l’ancien site des congrès du parti à Nuremberg‘, in Poli-Politique de l’Image, No.12, May 2016, pp. 50-59

Sharon Macdonald 2016 Review of Haidy Geismar Treasured Possessions: Indigenous Interventions into Cultural and Intellectual Property, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 22: 237-8.

Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan 2016 ‘Meaningful objects: stories and videos from the curating domestic profusion workshop‘, Heritage Futures website.

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘Museum storerooms‘, Heritage Futures website.

Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘The profusion of things to do – on feeling busier than ever’, Heritage Futures website.

Rodney Harrison, Nadia Bartolinia, Caitlin de Silvey, Cornelius Holtorf, Sharon Macdonald, Sarah May, Jennie Morgan, Sefryn Penrose 2016 ‘Heritage Futures’, Archaeology International 19: 68-72.

Regina Römhild and Sharon Macdonald 2016 ‘Reflexive Europeanisation and contentious cultural heritage’ Traces Vol.1: 10-12.


Publications 2015

Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy 2015 (general editors) International Handbooks in Museum Studies, four volumes. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sharon Macdonald 2015 ‘How things matter: stories from Nuremberg’, in Braun, Karl / Dieterich, Claus-Marco / Treiber, Angela (Hg.) Materialisierung von Kultur: Diskurse, Dinge, PraktikenWürzburg. Königshausen & Neumann.

Sharon Macdonald 2015 ‘The Trouble with the Ethnological, in The Laboratory Concept. Museum Experiments in the Humboldt Lab Dahlem/  ‘Probleme mit der Ethnologie’, in Prinzip Labor. Museumsexperimente im Humboldt Lab Dahlem. Berlin: Nicolai, pp.211-228.

Sharon Macdonald 2015 ‘Moving between anthropologies in and on Europe’, invited contribution to Forum ‘Rethinking Euro-Anthropology’, Social Anthropology 23:4.

Sharon Macdonald 2015 Review of Marzia Varutti, Museums in China: the Politics of Representation after Mao (Boydell and Brewer), JRAI, 21: 485-6.

Sharon Macdonald 2015 ‘Pearls’, Heritage Futures website.


Selected Publications Pre-2015

Paul Basu and Sharon Macdonald 2014 ‘Experimente in Ausstellung, Ethnographie, Kunst und Wissenschaft’, in S.Kamel and C.Gerbich (eds) Experimentierfeld Museologie, Transcript, pp. 71-95.

Sharon Macdonald 2014 ‘СЪЗДАВАНЕ НА РАЗЛИЧИЯ И СЪЗДАВАНЕ НА ГРАЖДАНИ В ЕТНОГРАФСКИТЕ МУЗЕИ’, (‘Making differences and making citizens in ethnographic museums’), in Българска етнология/ Bulgarian ethnology, 4: 484-500.

Sharon Macdonald 2014 ‘Migrating heritage, networks and networking: Europe and Islamic heritage’, in P.Innocenti (ed.) Migrating Heritage: Experiences of Cultural Networks and Dialogues in Europe, Farnham: Ashgate, pp.53-64.

Sharon Macdonald 2013 Memorylands. Heritage and Identity in Europe Today, London: Routledge. Excerpts from Memorylands:  Feeling the Past; Selling the Past.

Sharon Macdonald, 2012, ‘Presencing Europe’s pasts’, in Ulrich Kockel, Mairead NicCraith and Jonas Frykman, (eds), Blackwell Companion to the Anthropology of Europe, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 233-52.

Sharon Macdonald, 2011, ‘The Shop: multiple economies of things in museums’, in Friedrich von Bose, Kerstin Poehls, Franka Schneider and Annett Schulze (eds), MuseumX. Zur Neuvermessung eines mehrdimensionalen Raumes, Berliner Blätter/Panama, pp. 37-48.

Sharon Macdonald, 2011,‘Museumsbesuch und Ausstellungsdesign’, in D. Harrasser et al., (eds), Wissen Spielen, Bielefeld: Transcript, 2011, pp. 237–59.

Sharon Macdonald, 2010, ‘Museen erforschen. Für eine Museumswissenschaft in der Erweiterung’, in Joachim Baur, (ed.) Museumsanalyse, Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, pp. 49–69.

Sharon Macdonald 2009 Difficult Heritage. Negotiating the Nazi Past in Nuremberg and Beyond, London: Routledge. Excerpts from Difficult Heritage.

Sharon Macdonald, 2009, ‘Unsettling memories: intervention and controversy over difficult public heritage’, in Marta Anico and Elsa Peralta, (eds), Heritage and Identity. Engagement and Demission in the Contemporary World, London: Routledge, pp. 93–104. Translated into Chinese in Research on Marxist Aesthetics, 2008, pp. 195–206.

Sharon Macdonald, 2009, ‘Reassembling Nuremberg, reassembling heritage’, Journal of Cultural Economy, 2, nos. 1-2, pp. 117–34.

Sharon Macdonald, 2008, ‘Museum Europe: Negotiating heritage’, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 17, pp. 47–65.

Sharon Macdonald and Paul Basu (eds) 2007 Exhibition Experiments, New York: Wiley-Blackwell. Introduction: Experiments in Exhibition, Ethnography, Art and Science.

Sharon Macdonald, 2007, ‘Interconnecting: museum visiting and exhibition design’, CoDesign, 3, no. 1, pp. 149–62.

Sharon Macdonald, 2007, ‘Changing cultures, changing rooms: fashioning identities and anthropological research’, in D. Bryceson, J. Okely and J. Webber, (eds), Fashioning Identities and Weaving Networks: Gender and Ethnicity in a Cross-Cultural Context, Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 21–37.

Sharon Macdonald (ed.) 2006 Companion to Museum Studies, New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

Petri Hautaniemi, Helena Jerman and Sharon Macdonald, 2006, (eds), Anthropological Perspectives on Social Memory, special issue of Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 2006.

Sharon Macdonald, 2006, (ed.), Materializing Sheffield: Place, Culture, Identity, Sheffield: Humanities Research Institute, with editorial assistance from James Symonds, online:

Sharon Macdonald, 2005, ‘Commemorating the Holocaust: the ethics of national identity in the twenty-first century’, in J. Littler and R. Naidoo, (eds), The Politics of Heritage: The Legacies of Race, London: Routledge, pp. 49–68.

Eric Hirsch and Sharon Macdonald, 2005, (eds), Creativity or Temporality?, special issue of Cambridge Anthropology, 25, no. 2, 116 pp.

Jeanette Edwards, Sharon Macdonald and Mike Savage, 2005, (eds), Community, continuity and change in the study of Britain: A Festschrift for Ronnie Frankenberg, special issue of The Sociological Review, 53, no. 4

Sharon Macdonald 2002 Behind the Scenes at the Science Museum, Oxford: Bloomsbury. ‘Taster’ to Behind the Scenes.

Ina Maria Greverus, Regina Römhild, Sharon Macdonald, Gisela Welz and Helena Wulff, 2002, (eds), Shifting Grounds: Experiments in Doing Ethnography, special issue of Anthropological Journal on European Cultures, 2002, 218 pp.

Sharon Macdonald, 2000, (ed.), Approaches to European Historical Consciousness: Reflections and Provocations, Hamburg: Körber, 175 pp.

Sharon Macdonald, 1998, (ed.), The Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture, London and New York: Routledge, 242 + xii pp.; reprinted 1999.

Sharon Macdonald and Gordon Fyfe, 1996, (eds), Theorizing Museums: Identity and Diversity in a Changing World, Oxford and New York: Blackwell, 236 pp.

Sharon Macdonald 1997 Reimagining Culture: Histories, Identities and the Gaelic Renaissance, Oxford: Bloomsbury.

Sharon Macdonald, 1995, (ed.), Science on Display, guest editor special issue of Science as Culture, 1995, 157 pp.

Sharon Macdonald, 1993, (ed.), Inside European Identities: Ethnography in Western Europe, Oxford and Providence: Berg, 247 + viii pp.; reprinted 1997.

Sharon Macdonald, Pat Holden and Shirley Ardener, 1987, (eds), Images of Women in Peace and War: cross-cultural and historical perspectives, Basingstoke: Macmillan/Wisconsin: Wisconsin University Press, 240 + xx pp.

Academic and Public Engagement

Sharon Macdonald, Arbeit am Gedächtnis series with Aleida Assmann and Cristina Baldacci. Akademie der Künste, 8 June 2021.

Tal Adler and Sharon Macdonald, Who is ID8470? Making and artistic difference in the Humboldt Forum, Berlin. Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, 10 March 2021.

Sharon Macdonald, Museum Futures Beyond the 2020 Crises. A Transatlantic Conversation. Discussion hosted by the German Historical Institute, Washington, December 2020.

Sharon Macdonald, Keynote Lecture: Re-Worlding Heritage. 5th Biennial Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (online), UCL London, August 2020.

Sharon Macdonald, Concluding panel discussion. 5th Biennial Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (online), UCL London, August 2020.

Sharon Macdonald, Too much stuff? What (not) to keep for the future?, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Akademie der Bildenden Künste Munich, 3 December 2019.

Sharon Macdonald, Museum Making in the 21st Century, The Humboldt Club Czech Republic, German Embassy Prague, 21 November 2019.

Sharon Macdonald, Mobilities and Transnationalism in the 21st Century. Keynote lecture. University of Iceland, Reykjavik, 30 April 2019.

Sharon Macdonald and Michael Beaney, Talking with Objects. lab.Bode Set #5: Dialog. Bode Museum Berlin, 20 February 2019.



Sharon Macdonald, New approaches to dealing with Europe’s contentious pasts. Invited talk at ‘National identities – Inauthentic Europe? The Future of European Heritage’, Brussels 20-21 November 2018.

Sharon Macdonald, Understanding Memorylands and Heritage in a Digitalized and Mobile World. Advanced Study Group – Heritage and Memory beyond Place, University of Lund, 27 September 2018.

Tal Adler and Sharon Macdonald, Affordances of Contentious Collections for Public Engagement. Museum Affordances, University of Cambridge, 19-20 September 2018.

Sharon Macdonald, Houses of Culture in Times of Unculture? Potentials of Ethnographic Museums’, Keynote Opening Lecture at: Exhibiting Culture, Exhibiting Empire, Exhibiting Europe, SWICH conference, Cambridge, 11 July 2018.

Sharon Macdonald, Introduction. Carmah Research Encounter #1, Berlin, 6 July 2018.

Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan Research Update, Unpolished paper series, 2 May 2018.

Sharon Macdonald, panel discussant in UK-German Cooperation in Globalising Research. Sharing Experiences on what makes a difference, Humboldt Colloquium Moving Forward: The UK-German Research Network in a Changing World, 16 March 2018.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Rendering the Past: Layered Memories and Palace Politics in the Remaking of Berlin’, The Collinson Lecture, University of Liverpool, 14 March 2018. (Cancelled due to industrial action.)

Sharon Macdonald, Invited speaker at Making Differences: Do Museums Matter in a Changing World?, panel within Forward Looking: The Future of Art History and Museums, Birkbeck College, University of London, 23-24 February 2018.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Riesenkürbisse und Sexpuppen’, Süddeutsche Zeitung 24 January 2018.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Making Diversities and Differences in Museums’, Invited Keynote lecture. Diversität Darstellen. Annual conference of the Zentrum für Literatur und Kultur Forschung, Berlin, 11 January 2018.



Sharon Macdonald 2017 ‘What is cultural heritage?’, European Year of Cultural Heritage, International Cultural Centre, Krakow.

Sharon Macdonald ‘What kind of Museum do we need?’ Invited Keynote Lecture. Remaking the Museum: Curation, Conservation and Care in Times of Ecological Upheaval, Aarhus 6 December 2017.

„Brexit? Ich bin erleichtert, in Berlin zu forschen“‘, interview in Der Tagesspiegel, November 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘The future of international collaboration and researcher mobility in the UK and Germany’ Panel Discussant at the British Embassy, Berlin, October 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Engaging the post/colonial archive: collections, museums, and the politics of access and display’, panel discussant at the German Anthropological Association Conference, Freie Universität Berlin, October 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Objects Otherwise’ introduction to public lecture by Haidy Geismar, Berlin, 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Otherwise – Rethinking Museums and Heritage’, Symposium, CARMAH, Berlin, July 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Heritage Traces, Differences and Futures’, invited keynote lecture,  4th Heritage Forum of Central Europe: Heritage and Society, Krakow, June 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘How Can We Know the Future? Magical Techniques for Dealing with Uncertainty in Museums’, invited keynote lecture, Assessment of Significance, (in honour of Prof. Dr. Beier-de Haan), May 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Colloquium: Modes of Relating: An Introduction’ IfEE, Berlin, April 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ’Art and Human Remains: A Discussion of the Ethics of Artistic Work with Historic Collections of Human Remains’, roundtable discussion, University of Edinburgh, April 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Re-enchantment, Ritualisation, Heritage-making: Processes of Tradition Reconfiguration in Europe’, panel discussion, SIEF, Göttingen, March 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Bridging Human Clashes: Global Questions, Local Answers’, panel discussion, Berlin, March 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Archival Afflictions and Contested Memories in the Remaking of Berlin’s Historic Centre’, invited keynote lecture, University of York, March 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Making Differences in Berlin’, invited keynote lecture, Humboldt Colloquium, Washington, March 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Colonial Legacies and Cosmo-optimal Futures: Dilemmas and Potentials of Ethnographic Museums’, public lecture, KCL Memory Group, London, February 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Authenticity-Angst – Commodifying and Remediating the Past’, Ringvorlesung, Leibniz Research Alliance, German Historical Museum, Berlin, February 2017.

Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan‘Curating profusion – from connoisseurship to mediation?’, talk at IfEE, Berlin, January 2017.

Sharon Macdonald ‘What Not to Collect: Materials, Objects, Stories’, lecture at Museum der Dinge, Berlin, January 2017.



Sharon Macdonald ‘Heritage and the Politics of Recognition’, introduction to talks by Laurajane Smith, Gareth Millington and David Huyssen followed by a panel discussion, CARMAH, Berlin, December 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Co-criticality and Creative Engagement – The Future for Museum Studies’, Opening keynote, Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam, November 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Curating Between Hope and Despair: Creating POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews’, introducing talk by Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, IfEE, Berlin, November 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘THING’, panel discussion as part of HKW’s Dictionary of Now, Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, October 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘The Anthropologist As Curator: A Roundtable’, Panel discussion at14th Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, University of Milano-Bicoccia, July 2016.

Sharon Macdonald et al., ‘Re-visioning material anthropological legacies for cosmo-optimal futures‘, Panel at the 14th Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, University of Milano-Bicoccia, 20-23 July 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Sensory Dimensions of Making Differences and Diversity in Museums’, talk at Ethnologisches Kolloquium, Institut für Ethnologie, Universität Hamburg, July 2016.

Sharon Macdonald and Jennie Morgan ‘Curating Museum Profusion: Looking to Ethnography of Domestic Excess for New Collecting Futures’, Presentation by Jennie Morgan of joint paper at ASA2016, University of Durham, July 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘What are Museums Good for in the 21st Century?’ Book Presentation and Panel Discussion, CARMAH, Berlin, July 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘In Museen entscheiden wir, wie wir unsere Gegenwart vermessen‘, interview with Sharon Macdonald, taz, June 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Tracing and Redrawing the Lines of Difficult and Contentious Heritage’, Keynote public lecture at Traces Kick off Meeting, Klagenfurt, May 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Islamische Kunst – Out of the Box’, Panel discussion, Pergamon Museum, Berlin, April 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Institute’s Colloquium: European Heritage and Memory Politics’, IfEE, Berlin.

Sharon Macdonald,  Experiencing Differences and Diversities in Contemporary Germany, Joint Conference, CARMAH, Berlin, April 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Holding Onto the Past’, interview with Sharon Macdonald, University of York, April 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Making Differences in Berlin: Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st Century’, European Centre for Cultural Exploration, University of York, March 2016.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Future Perspectives’ Panel discussant at Listening to the Archive. Histories of Sound Data in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, February 2016.



Sharon Macdonald ‘What will our future memories be? Interview with Sharon Macdonald’, by Ramon Sanguesa for CCCBLAB: Research and Innovation in the Public Sphere, December 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Breaking the Wall of the Museum. How Anthropology investigates the Heritage of the Future’, Falling Walls. The International Conference on the Future Breakthroughs in Science and Societyinvited keynote lecture, Berlin, November 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Institute Colloquium: Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st Century: Making Differences in Berlin’, Institute for European Ethnology, Berlin, November 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Museums and Public Engagement’, invited talk at workshop Where is the Pergamon Altar? Visitor Orientation and Managing Expectations in the Pergamon Museum, New York University, Berlin, November 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Names in the Ivy Leauge’, The New Yorker, citation of Sharon Macdonald’s work, November 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Making differences and citizens through city heritage’, Keynote lecture, Berlin, Oktober 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘What Museums (Can) Do[YouTube Video], invited public lecture in the series Wissensort Museum. Traditionen, Perspektiven, Positionen [Museums as Places of Knowledge. Traditions, Perspectives, Positions], University of Göttingen, Germany, October 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Too much stuff: What should we keep to show future generations?‘, Opinion/Interview with Sharon Macdonald, by Sean O’Neill, New Scientist, Issue 3044; October 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ’„Ich bin eine Art Historikerin der Gegenwart“ – Sharon Macdonald tritt Alexander von Humboldt-Professur an’, Humboldt-University Berlin news (also published in insert “Humboldt-Universität” in Tagesspiegel), October 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‚Innovativen Formen Musealer Praxis und neue Umgangsformen mit kulturellem (und naturellen) Erbe’ [Innovative forms of museum practice and new forms of dealing with cultural (and natural) heritage], invited lecture to the Auswärtiges Amt [the German Foreign Office], Berlin, October 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Divers-City: Making Differences and Citizens through City Heritage’, invited keynote lecture, Urban Heritage and Urban Images: Imagineering Urban Heritage, Georg-Simmel Centre for Metropolitan Research, Berlin, October 2015.

Sharon Macdonald “Ein Teil der Geschichte: Der Umgang mit dem Reichsparteitagsgelände seit 1945″ [‘A Piece of History: Negotiating the Nazi Party rally Grounds since 1945’], invited public lecture to open the exhibition Das Gelände: Dokumentation, Perspektiven, Diskussion [The Grounds: Documentation, Perspectives, Discussion] and accompanying conference “Erhalten! Wozu? Perspektiven für Zeppelintribüne, Zeppelinfeld und das ehemalige Reichsparteitagsgelände“ [Preserve! For what? Perspectives on the Zeppelin Building, Zeppelin Field and former Nazi Party Rally Grounds], Nuremberg, October 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘The transcultural potential of museums’, invited talk, Transkulturellen Kunstgeschichten im Museum (DFG funded), Free University Berlin, Germany, September 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Immer Krise? Always in Crisis?’, invited opening keynote lecture at Für Immer Krise? Fragen der Repräsentation in Museen für Nicht-Europäische Kunst und Kulturen/ Always in Crisis? Questions of Representation in Museums of Non-European Art and Culture, Humboldt Lab Dahlem, Berlin, September 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Islam as European Heritage’, seminar talk, Världkulturmuseet, Gothenburg, Sweden, September 2015.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Concluding comments’, invited commentary at Positioning Ethnological Museums in the 21st Century, (Volkswagen Stiftung funded), Hanover, Germany, June 2015.

Sharon Macdonald Press coverage: Verleihung der Humboldt-Professuren: Neue Museumskonzepte zur Völkerverständigung.

Sharon Macdonald ‘Neuer Wind für Berlins Museen: Eine Britin kümmert sich um das Preußenerbe’ Der Tagesspiegel, May 2015.

Memberships (Current)

Fellowships and Learned Society Memberships

Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI)

Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHS)

Nominated Member of AcademiaNet

Association for Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS)

Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde (dgv)

European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)

International Council of Museums (ICOM)

International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF)

Memory Studies Association (MSA)


Advisory Boards and Executive Committees (since 2015)

Member of the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (2021–2023)

Member of the Executive Committee of the Initiative for Science in Europe (2021–2023)

Member of the Academic Committee of the House of European History (since 2019)

Member of the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Association (since 2018)

Member of the Advisory Board of the Museum Affordances project (AHRC, UK) (2018–2022)

Member of the Advisory Board of the History of the Übersee Museum (2017-19)

Member of the Committee to produce the new ICOM Dictionary of Museology (since 2017)

Member of the Board of the Memory Studies Association (since 2017)

Member of the Research Assessment Panel of the British Museum (2017)

Scientific Committee Member for Association of Critical Heritage Studies 2018 Conference Heritage Across Borders (2016-18)

Member of the Advisory Board of Berlin Global in the Humboldt Forum (2016–2021)

Member of the Koordinationskreis [Coordination Circle] of the Museum of Natural History, Berlin (2016-18)

Member of the Advisory Board of the Coordination of University research collections in Germany (Beirat der Koordinationsstelle für wissenschaftliche Universitätssammlungen in Deutschland) (2016–2022)

Working Group member of the Social Platform on Cultural Heritage and European Identities, a Cultural Base Research and Innovation Project of Horizon 2020 (2016-19)

Member of the Advisory Board of Museological framings of Islam, Swedish Research Council (2015-17)


Journal Editorial Boards

Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

Anthropology in Action

International Journal of Heritage Studies

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Memory Studies

Museum and Society

Science Museum Journal

THEMA: La Revue des Musées de la Civilisation

Tourism and Cultural Change

PhD Students

* = first supervision

Habiba Insaf* – Exhibiting India in Germany: Politics of Display and Interpretation of Indian Objects in Berlin Museums. Gerda Henkel Foundation. 2021>
Helena Kiess – title tbc – CHAPTER project, Volkswagen Foundation. 2020>
Marlena Nikody – title tbc – CHAPTER project, Volkswagen Foundation. Based at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow. 2020>
Callum Fisher* – From provenance to potentiality: Understanding a museum collection dispersed across disciplinary, institutional and national borders. Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. 2020>
Sina Holst – Ecologies of memory. Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. 2020>
Yoonha Kim* – Wearable objects, wearable ontologies. Matters of Activity, DFG. 2020>
Katharina Geis* – Curating Digital Images from Museum and Heritage Websites for Knowledge Practices. Curating Digital Images project, DFG. 2019>
Sarah Ullrich – Curated and curating bodies. Curating Digital Images project, DFG. 2019>
Tomás Usón – Remembering future disasters – Climate change, memory and anticipation in Andean cities. 2019>
Farina Asche – Migration digital ausstellen. Von (un)sichtbaren Infrastrukturen und diapolitischen Objekten im Kontext digitaler Migrationsmusealisierung. Wissen/Ausstellen Forschungskolleg, Georg-August Universität Göttingen. 2018>
Adina Dymczyk – Shaping normative and emotional landscapes: Transgenerational transmission of trauma in post-conflict settings. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. 2018>
Nazli Cabadag* – Queer entanglements of transnational politics. Turkish-speaking newcomers negotiate alliance in Berlin. Alexander von Humboldt Making Differences project. 2017>
Chiara Garbellotto – Doing biodiversity and biodiversity’s doings: public engagement and more-than-human relations in the ecology of the Museum of Natural History. Alexander von Humboldt Making Differences project. 2017>
Hannes Hacke* – LGBT history on display in Berlin between 1984 and 2014. 2017>
Christine Gerbich* – Reassembling the heritage of the Old Kings. On the futurability of the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. 2015>

Former students include…
(With apologies for current incompleteness. Please send corrections, omissions and updates!)

Tabea Malter – Vor-Geschichten. Gedächtnis, Erbe und Identität in Archäologischen Landesmuseen. Gerda Henkel Foundation. 2017> (examined)

Siriporn Srisinurai* – Curating the sacred, enchanting the ordinary: Things, practices and local museums in Northeast Thailand. Thammasat University. 2015–2020 (examined 2021)

Margareta von Oswald* – Working through colonial collections. ‘Africa’ in Berlin’s Humboldt Forum. Alexander von Humboldt Making Differences Project. PhD Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, PhD examined 2020.

Zarina Adambussinova – Heritage, Memory, Dissonance: the City Museum of Kókshetau in Peripheral Post-Soviet Kazakhstan. Gerda Henkel Stiftung. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, PhD examined 2020.

Gönül Bozoğlu* – Displays of Emotion: Encountering the Past in Turkish History Museums. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, PhD examined 2018. PhD publication.

Alejandra Jaramillo Vasquez* – Reshaping policy: Creativity and Everyday Practice in an Arts Organisation in Mexico City. Conseilo National de Science y Tecnología. University of York PhD 2016.

Jan Lorenz* – Remaking of Jewish sociality in contemporary Poland. Haunting legacies, global connections. University of Manchester PhD 2014.

Chris Courtney* – A Social and Environmental History of the 1931 China Floods. University of Manchester PhD 2013.

Friedrich von Bose – Displays des Kolonialen. Eine Ethnographie des ‘Making-of’ des Berliner Humboldt-Forums. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, PhD examined 2013. PhD publication.

Victoria Bishop Kendzia – The Jewish Museum Berlin. Visitor Experience in the Context of Political Education. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, PhD examined 2013. PhD publication.

Hannah-Lee Chalk* – The Uses, Meanings and Values of Natural Objects: University earth science objects and collections as material culture. University of Manchester PhD 2012.

Jennie Morgan* – Change and Everyday Practice at the Museum: An Ethnographic Study. University of Manchester PhD 2011.

Richard Sandell* – Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference. University of Sheffield PhD 2006.

Morgan Meyer* – Partially connected to science. The Luxembourg Museum of Natural History and its scientific collaborators. University of Sheffield PhD 2006.

James Oliver* – Young people and Gaelic in Scotland: Identity dynamics in a European region. University of Sheffield Phd 2002.