Professor Graeme Were

BA Hons(Keele), MSc(Lond.), PhD(Lond.)

  • BS8 1UU

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Personal profile

Research interests

Graeme Were is the chair and professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Bristol. He has held positions at the University of Queensland, University College London, the British Museum, and Goldsmiths College London, and joined Bristol in 2018. His research interests include museum anthropology, digital heritage and material culture studies, and he has a regional specialism in Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. 

Graeme's most recent monograph is Museums, Collections and Social Repair in Vietnam (Routledge, 2022). The book explores the often-unacknowledged work of museums in socialist Vietnam in helping ordinary people overcome loss and trauma suffered during conflict. It examines how museum collections offer hope to families and individuals in the search for answers and for building a better future and the dynamic way in which museums have responded to concerns of people in post-conflict society.

Graeme currently holds an AHRC Network grant 'The Rise of Private Museums and Heritage in East and Southeast Asia: Understanding Memory and Transformation.' The network involves scholars from the UK, Asia, Europe, and the US who meet to discuss developments in the museum and heritage sector in Asia. More details can be found here

A unique aspect of Graeme’s work is combining anthropological fieldwork with curatorial work. In 2019, Graeme worked with the Museum of Danang in central Vietnam to co-produce the stories of a displaced fishing community. In 2016, he collaborated with curatorial staff at the Vietnam National Museum of History to curate a temporary exhibition 'Doi Moi: Journey of Dreams' which explored the post-reform period from 1986 in Vietnam. He received a national achievement gold medal from the Vietnamese government for his contribution to museums in 2016.

Another area of Graeme's research focuses on museums, material culture and heritage in the Pacific. He has published extensively on this topic including: How Materials Matter: Design, Innovation, and Materiality in the Pacific (Berghahn, 2019), Lines that Connect: Rethinking Pattern and Mind in the Pacific (University of Hawaii, 2010), Extreme Collecting (Berghahn, 2012 with J C H King) and ‘Pacific Pattern’ (Thames & Hudson, 2005, with S Kuechler).

He chairs the Museum and Heritage Research group in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology - a cluster of Masters, PhD and postdoctoral students based at Bristol and overseas.



  • Museums
  • Heritage
  • Material culture
  • Anthropology
  • Collections
  • Digital technologies
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Vietnam


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  • Gold medal of achievement

    Were, Graeme (Recipient), 2016

    Prize: National/international honour

  • Curl Lectureship

    Were, Graeme (Recipient), 2011

    Prize: National/international honour