The Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at UEA and the British Museum (BM) are seeking proposals for a fully-funded doctoral study (CDP) of archival and object collections at the BM from October 2023.


Postcard of ancient Peruvian pottery (photo by R. Castillo), courtesy of the British Museum

Project overview

The BM holds significant ancient Andean collections from the 19th and early 20th century in its Americas Section. This CDP project investigates their history, and aims to help establish their extent, make comparative characterisations, reveal the intellectual networks and connections that led to their formation, and to demonstrate their past and current relevance to a variety of stakeholders.

There is extensive material for which collection data is not currently known but potentially recoverable through dedicated research at the BM. The successful candidate would help document what is in the collection, and also how it got there. This project offers an opportunity to recognise and add value to key BM collections of the ancient Andes. The project also complements new exhibition initiatives, which would be helped by the CDP's provenance research and new historical framing of the collections.

This project has great potential to illuminate the period's collecting approach to South America, the intellectual milieu and social networks, especially in relation to these questions:

  1. What Andean materials and kinds/styles can be attributed to the period in question (approx. 1850s-1950s)?
  2. Through what networks and relationships did these objects arrive in London and the BM, and how were these connected internationally (Europe, USA, Peru)? What were the economies and politics that impacted acquisition and circulation?
  3. How can these objects and collections illuminate how Peru, the Andes and Latin America were understood and depicted during the period? Who were the major players and what shifts occurred?

The principal research methods will be close examination and comparative analysis of early collections (principally BM), and forensic research in select museums, university and civic libraries and archives in the UK and Peru. The archives include registers, correspondence, notes and photographic materials. The breadth of the BM collections allows considerable flexibility to select disciplinary orientations and match methodological approaches according to student’s interests and skillset. Given the richness of the Andean collections (esp. ceramics, textiles, metalwork, stone carvings), a wealth of new information and insights should emerge, of value to museums and the academic community as well as to the student’s career development.

The project will be a long overdue, reflexive appraisal of how Andean collections were formed in relation to collectors’ orientations and activities, and to institutional choices during Victorian- and later intellectual and social contexts when objects and collections from Peru and all around the globe played an increasingly seminal role. By elucidating the ways that collections developed alongside these developments, the doctoral study also helps support more transparent curatorial practices and will enrich knowledge transfer in the future. 

Details of the award

This studentship is funded by the UK's Arts & Humanities Research Council as part of a British Museum Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) award for new PhD students.

The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.  CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.  

  • The award pays tuition fees up to the value of the full-time home UKRI rate for PhD degrees. Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2022/2023 is £4,596 (Rates for 2023/2024 TBC). If applicable, it is expected that any difference between Home and International fees will be subvened or exempted by SRU/UEA.
  • The award pays full maintenance for all students both home and international students. The UKRI National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2022/2023 is £17,668/year, a London Allowance (£1000/year) directly by the BM, plus a CDP maintenance payment of £550/year.
  • The successful candidate may be eligible to apply for additional funding by SRU to support research and training costs and conference participation costs.
  • Further details can be found on the UKRI website

Unfortunately, no additional funds are available to assist with relocation or visa costs.


This studentship is open to both Home and International applicants, to enrol as a new PhD student at UEA.

To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria: Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements); or have settled status; or have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements); or have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

International candidates are encouraged to apply (and, if successful, area eligible to apply for UK student visa).

Further guidance can be found on the UKRI website.

  • We want to encourage the widest range of potential students for this studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area.
  • Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but may include: Archaeology; Anthropology; Art History; History; Museum Studies; Latin American Studies
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the museum sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas (e.g., collections & archival research, object handling, databases).
  • As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend research time at both the University and the BM.
  • All applicants must meet UKRI terms and conditions for funding.
  • The successful candidate will be eligible to participate in CDP Cohort Development Events.

How to apply

Deadline to apply is 5pm on 3 May 2023.

All applications must use UEA’s online system, completing the information and uploading the relevant documents from UEA's postgraduate research degree application pages.

  • contact details of two referees (please ensure your referees can provide (on request, via email) an academic reference by 5pm on Monday 8 May 2023).
  • copies of degree diplomas and transcripts (BA, MA, etc.)
  • English language test scores (if required).

In addition to the information requested in the UEA application form, please also submit the following directly via email to and

  • An example of recent academic writing (e.g., MA dissertation chapter or essay, or undergraduate dissertation where the applicant does not have an MA qualification).
  • A statement (1 page) outlining your reasons for your interest in the project, and initial thoughts on how you would approach it.
  • A CV (2 pages max) with information on your academic qualifications and any work or other relevant experience.

We will look to interview candidates on Friday 19 May 2023 (TBC)

Relevant sources

  • Curatola, Marco, et al., eds. 2020. El arte antes de la historia. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
  • Gänger, Stefanie. 2014. Relics of the Past: The Collecting and Study of Pre-Columbian Antiquities in Peru and Chile, 1837-1911. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hocquenghem, Anne-Marie, et al., eds. 1987. Pre-Columbian Collections in European Museums. Helsinki: Akadémiai Kiadó.
  • Pardo, Cecilia and Jago Cooper, eds. 2021. Peru: A Journey in Time. London: British Museum Press.