He has particular interests in southern Africa, but has also done field research in northern Australia, Jamaica and England. His interests and instincts are global and broadly comparative, and he is currently working on the role of missionaries (and museums) in the making of the modern world.
He previously worked at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, where he was Curator of Human History, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, where he worked as a researcher on a number of projects, including The Other Within and the Relational Museum. He has also taught Heritage Studies and Material Culture to students at the Open University.
Between July to December 2017, Chris will be based at the University of Cape Town, undertaking a South African National Research Foundation fellowship for early-career researchers from the UK. His project is Re-collecting the Missionary Road: re-presenting artefacts of encounter from the northern Cape frontier, 1799 – 1871.
2017. ‘Scarcely more than a Christian trophy case’?: The global collections of the London Missionary Society museum (1814-1910). Journal of the History of Collections vol. 29 no.1 (2017) pp.109-128; DOI: 10.1093/jhc/fhw002
2017. Missionary Museums. In Religion in Museums, Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives (eds.) G. Buggeln, C. Paine and S. Brent Plate, 231-238. Bloomsbury: London.
2015. Trophies, Relics and Curios? Missionary Heritage from Africa and the Pacific. Edited with K. Jacobs and C. Knowles. Sidestone Press: Leiden.
2014. Who Cares? The Material Heritage of British Missions in Africa and the Pacific, and its future. With K. Jacobs. Journal of Museum Ethnography 27, 129-136.
2013. Reassembling the London Missionary Society collection: experiments with symmetrical anthropology and the archaeological sensibility. In Reassembling the Collection (eds) S. Byrne, A. Clarke, & R. Harrison, 61-87. SAR Seminar Series: Santa Fe.
2012. Remembering David Livingstone 1873-1935: from celebrity to saintliness. In David Livingstone – Man, Myth and Legacy (ed) S. Worden, 115-129. National Museums Scotland: Edinburgh.
2012. An Imperialist Folklore? Establishing the Folk-lore Society in London. With C. Gosden. In Folklore and Nationalism in Europe during the Long Nineteenth Century (eds) T. Baycroft and D. Hopkin, 255-274. Leiden: Brill.
2012. Photographing ‘the Bridge’: Product and Process in the analysis of a Social Situation in non-modern Zululand. In Photography in Africa: Ethnographic Perspectives (ed.) R. Vokes, 56-80. Oxford: James Currey.
2011. From Greater Britain to Little England: the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Museum of English Rural Life, and their Six Degrees of Separation. Museum History Journal 4:2, 245-265. DOI: 10.1179/mhj.2011.4.2.245
2011. Donors, Loaners, Dealers and Swappers: The Relationships behind the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum. In Unpacking the Collection: Museums, Identity and Agency (eds) S. Byrne, A. Clarke, R. Harrison & R. Torrence, 119-140. New York: Springer.
2011. Placing Britain in the British Museum: Encompassing the Other. In National Museums: New Studies from Around the World (eds) P. Aronsson, A. Amundsen & S. Knell, 123-137. London: Routledge.
2010. A Case Re-opened: The Science and Folklore of a “Witch’s Ladder”. Journal of Material Culture 15:3, 302-322. DOI: doi: 10.1177/1359183510373982
2010. Touching the Buddha: encounters with a charismatic object. In Museum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretations (ed.) S. Dudley, 53-70. London: Routledge.
2009. Is the Heart at Home? E.B. Tylor’s collections from Somerset. Journal of Museum Ethnography 22, 22-38.
2006. (Before and) after Gallery 33: Fifteen years on at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Journal of Museum Ethnography 18, 49-62.
2005. Historical time versus the imagination of antiquity. In The Qualities of Time: Anthropological Approaches (eds) W. James & D. Mills, 119-135. Oxford: Berg.
2003. Ostrich eggshell beads and the environment, past and present. In Researching Africa’s Past (eds) P. Mitchell, A. Haour & J. Hobart, 54-60. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archaeology.