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I have carried out research in several guises: as a curator of anthropology at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, as an AHRC funded PhD student, and in post doctoral roles at the University of Cambridge. As my career has progressed my research interests have developed from museum-specific concerns to engagement with the expansive academic discourse around heritage, politics and identity. My outputs have been diverse and include theoretical contributions, an edited volume, and an open access database which has been drawn on extensively, including by policy-makers.

I enjoy translating my research into lectures, seminars and public talks. I have taught at the University of Cambridge and been invited to speak at University College London, the University of Sheffield, and the Royal College of Art where I am an advisor on the Information Experience Design Course. Outside of academia, perhaps the talk I’ve enjoyed giving the most was facilitated by the former Chief Druid Philip Carr Gomm and was delivered to an audience interested in magic and wellbeing.

My published work explores two strands of enquiry: the first concerns the political use of the past in the present. Heritage is becoming ever more contested and a nuanced conception of why this is happening is essential if the sector is to move in productive directions. The second strand relates to how my background has influenced the stories which I want to tell as an academic and as a curator.

I’ve pursued both strands in British contexts and through the case study of the Kalasha, a religious minority who live on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. My work has demonstrated how this community’s experience lays bare many of the currents which shape the relationship between heritage, identity, and pluralism elsewhere.

(Most of my publications can be downloaded at my page).

​Crowley, Tom (forthcoming). ‘Drawing on the Frontier: Sketchbook-cum-Journals and my Positionality as an Ethnographer of the Kalasha’. Frontier Ethnographies.

Crowley, Tom (2023). ‘Who are the Curators? Surveying Museum Staff in the UK who Create Narratives With Ethnographic Collections’. In Journal of Museum Ethnography, 36, pp 157-169.

Crowley, Tom (2022). ‘Mumuret: Drawing a Valley on the Afghan-Pakistan Frontier’. The Highlander Journal,  2, pp 1-9.


Crowley, Tom (2021). To Change Is to Be: The Kalasha of Pakistan’s Afghan Frontier and the Age of Heritage. Doctoral Thesis. University of Cambridge.


Crowley, Tom and Mills, Andrew (eds.) 2018. Weapons, Culture and the Anthropology Museum. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.


Crowley, Tom 2018. 'Horror in the Horniman: Living with the Cuenca Torture Chair'. In Tom Crowley and Andrew Mills (eds.) Weapons, Culture and the Anthropology Museum. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, pp 176-190.


Crowley, Tom 2015. 'Rediscovering the Samson and Bailey Collections: Lost landscapes and London's Tibetans'. In Journal of Museum Ethnography, 28, pp 173-183.

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