The Sainsbury Research Unit (SRU), based in the Sainsbury Centre at UEA, is a centre for the study of the arts and material culture of Africa, the Pacific region and the Americas.

It has six permanent academic faculty supported by library and administrative staff. Visiting fellows, research associates and postdoctoral researchers working on special projects also contribute to the academic life of the SRU.

It has its own teaching and study facilities and a specialist research library known as the Robert Sainsbury Library, all on hand in the Sainsbury Centre.

Our courses

The SRU offers MA and PhD degrees, with generous scholarships and funding support for students. MRes and MPhil options are available.

It also offers visiting fellowships for postdoctoral scholars and hosts regular conferences, symposia and other academic meetings.

The MA and PhD programmes are intended for those interested in careers in higher education, museums and galleries, publishing, journalism and development.

Our research and teaching

Combining anthropological, art-historical, archaeological and museological approaches, SRU research and teaching are focused on the distinctive cultures of the three regions.

It has a particular focus on how artworks and objects are made, used and circulated – in effect, how they matter to people, both in their original contexts and in the contexts of museums and exhibitions.

As part of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UEA the SRU contributes to a substantial and lively scholarly community in the Sainsbury Centre.

Our people

Events and News

CfAAA talk, 21 June 24; 5.00 - 6.00 pm : Digging, reading and looking: approaches and authority in Indian Ocean material culture history

We are excited to invite everyone to our upcoming seminar on Friday, 21 June.  Nancy Um, Associate Director for Research and Knowledge Creation at the Getty Research Institute will be presenting on Digging, Reading, and Looking: Approaches and Authority in Indian Ocean Material...

Karen Jacobs wins UEA PhD Supervisor of the Year award

The Transforming Education Awards (TEAs) ceremony, organised by the UEA Student Union in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, was held on Thursday 9 May. Congratulations to Dr Karen Jacobs for winning the PhD Supervisor of the Year award. Students nominated Karen for her constant...

MEG Conference 25 - 26 April 2024 - Living Museums - Looking to the Future

Hosts: Sainsbury Centre – Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania & the Americas – University of East Anglia (UEA)

CfAAA Talk, 23 April 24; 4.30 - 6.00pm : Supporting contemporary African writers - UEA's International Chair of Creative Writing Africa Year's programme

We are excited to invite everyone to our upcoming seminar on Tuesday 23 April 2024, which Professor Jean McNeil  (University of East Anglia) will be presenting. The talk is titled   Supporting contemporary African writers - UEA's International Chair of Creative Writing...

Professor Sule Sani - BA Global Professorship

Professor Sule Sani, from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, will be joining the Sainsbury Research Unit for four years on a British Academy Global Professorship . These Professorships are large investigator-led awards designed to attract established scholars to the UK to undertake...

Archaeological Association of Nigeria - 25th conference

The 25th Conference of the Archaeological Association of Nigeria (AAN) has recently concluded at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. The conference hosted dignitaries and academic personalities across the globe under the theme "Current...

Read SRU alumni Dr Bolaji Owoseni's recent article for The Conversation UK: Nigeria’s ancient Ilorin city - archaeologist uncovers over 1,000 years of history

Read SRU alumni Dr Bolaji Owoseni's recent article for The Conversation UK : Nigeria’s ancient Ilorin city - archaeologist uncovers over 1,000 years of history

CfAAA Talk, 21 March 24; 5-6:30pm : Object Metamorphosis and Alternatives to Colonization in New Kingdom Colonial Nubia (c. 1550-1070 BCE)

We are excited to invite everyone to our upcoming seminar on Thursday 21st, 2024, which Dr Rennan Lemos (University of Cambridge) will be presenting. The talk is titled  Object Metamorphosis and Alternatives to Colonization in New Kingdom Colonial Nubia ( c. 1550-1070 BCE ) and...

CfAAA Talk, 29 February 24; 5 - 6.30pm : Carrying the Burden, Caring for the Past Land, Body and Sensuous Knowledge in Contemporary Namibian Art

We are excited to put out an invitation to everyone for our upcoming seminar on Thursday 29th February 2024, which Dr Julia Binter (University of Bonn) will be presenting. The talk is titled Carrying the Burden, Caring for the Past Land, Body and Sensuous Knowledge in Contemporary...

Brent Kerehona visit to SRU 17 January 2024

Brent Kerehona, who is undertaking research on his distinguished Maori ancestor Hongi Hika, gave a presentation on 17 January 2024 at the SRU about his current research. This included showing his documentary film about Hongi’s visit to England in 1820, during which he stayed at Queen’s College,...