Alexander von Humboldt Professorship 2015

Sharon Jeanette Macdonald

Under Sharon Macdonald’s leadership, Humboldt-Universität, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin want to establish a new, world-leading Centre for Cultural Heritage and Museum Research. In her capacity as an Alexander von Humboldt Professor, Sharon Jeanette Macdonald will also be involved in the continuing development of concrete museum projects as the future Humboldt Forum and Berlin’s Museum Island.

  • Nominating University: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in collaboration with the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

Cultural Anthropology / Museology

How do you choose which of a culture’s or society’s objects and artefacts should be exhibited in museums? And, in this context, how do countries deal with their own, perhaps difficult, cultural heritage? These are the kinds of question that interest the eminent cultural anthropologist and museologist, Sharon Macdonald, and the ones she always links to socially relevant themes. She investigated the treatment of the Nazi past in Germany, for instance, by focussing on the historical heritage of Nuremberg. Amongst other things, she is currently examining how Islam is presented and conveyed in museums. The British scholar also specialises in museum theory and has produced many seminal works on the subject.

Brief bio

Born in 1961, Sharon Jeanette Macdonald is a professor at the University of York, United Kingdom. She completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford in 1987 and subsequently spent time at Brunel University in London and Keele University near Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK. In 1996, Macdonald became a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, where she was appointed to a professorship in cultural anthropology in 2002. From there, she moved to the University of Manchester in 2006 and, finally, in 2012, to the University of York. In the context of a Humboldt Research Fellowship, Macdonald conducted research in Germany on a number of occasions between 2000 and 2007, at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In 2011, she was a visiting professor at Peking University. Macdonald is a member of diverse specialist associations, including the Royal Anthropological Institute, and a member of the editorial boards of journals such as the International Journal of Heritage Studies. In October 2015 she took up her position as a Humboldt Professor in Berlin.
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