Angela McClanahan-Simmons


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Personal profile


Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, my educational background is in archaeology and anthropology.  I was a University Teacher at Glasgow University from 2003-8, and a Lecturer in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at Leeds University in 2007-8 before taking up my current post at ECA.

My primary research interests include examining how people engage with and construct meaning from the ancient material world, and how the things and places we make and use are experienced, interpreted, ordered and displayed in the past and present to construct narratives of history and culture in museums, galleries, landscape, bodily, and art contexts. I am specifically interested in ideas about the deep past (especially pre and protohistoric Scotland/Europe), and its relationship to presents/futures, art making, identities, politics, as well as the ethics surrounding museum display, contemporary art and ethnography.

I am currently pursuing three avenues of interrelated research:

  • The engagement with the ancient material past in the present in the Orkney Islands (ongoing);
  • The use of ancient and early modern symbolism from Northwest European archaeological remains in British performance art and moving image work over the last decade, and more generally, archaeology as a heuristic device in contemporary art;
  • The ethics of contemporary art, museum and gallery practices.

Finally, I frequently write for art exhibitions and exhibition catalogues, I was previously a trustee for Rhubaba Gallery in Edinburgh, I am a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and have since 2015 been a member of the editorial collective of the peer reviewed journal Visual Culture in Britain.

Research students

Past students:

Crowther, Rebecca. PhD 2017. 'Wellbeing and Self-Transformation in Natural Landscapes'. (Published as monograph by Palgrave MacMillan, 2019)

Kompatsiaris, Panos. PhD 2015: 'Curating Resistances: Crisis and the Limits of the Political Turn in Contemporary Art Biennials'. (Published as monograph by Routledge, 2017)

Contier, Xavier. PhD 2015: 'Education, reform and symbolic projection in the early twenty-first century, at the National Galleries of Scotland'.

Collaborative Activity

Art + Anthropology Research and Teaching: Atelier: Making Research in the Arts and Social Sciences. With Dr Richard Baxstrom and Professor Neil Mulholland.

Art + Anthropology Practice: member of the collective Aeon of Isis, with artists Alexa Hare and Liz Adamson.


Office Hours

Mondays 3-4 pm, Semester 2.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), The University of Manchester

Award Date: 1 Jan 2006

Master of Philosophy (MPhil), University of Glasgow

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000

Bachelor of Arts, Fort Lewis College

Award Date: 1 Jan 1998


  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Public Art, Ethics
  • GN Anthropology
  • Ethnography, Cities, Landscape, Temporality, Community, Activism
  • B Philosophy (General)
  • Ethics


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