AMNH-Bard Research Fellowship in Museum Anthropology

The Bard Graduate Center (BGC) and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) support a postdoctoral fellowship devoted to exploring, on a rotating basis, different parts
of the AMNH Anthropology Division's vast ethnographic holdings. A major purpose of the Bard Graduate Center-AMNH Fellowship is to promote mutual scholarly interest and interaction among our fellows, faculty, and students, and the broader Richard Gilder Graduate School-AMNH academic community.

Basketry Helmet (Hat) with Crest of Hair Naga, Upper Chindwin, Burma Bamboo, rattan, orchid skin, goat’s hair, pigment, plant fiber cord 13 x 6 3/8 x

Basketry Helmet (Hat) with Crest of Hair Naga, Upper Chindwin, Burma Bamboo, rattan, orchid skin, goat’s hair, pigment, plant fiber cord 13 x 6 3/8 x 10 1/4 in. (33 x 16 x 26 cm) Collected by the Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin Expedition in 1935 American Museum of Natural History 70.0/6374

Applicants must hold a PhD in Anthropology or a related field.

For each fellowship cycle, a new Anthropology theme will be announced for which applicants may apply. The project will make use of the AMNH Anthropology collections and will involve both teaching and mounting an exhibit.

All applications and questions should be directed to BGC. Housing is a possibility and there is a stipend. 

Current theme and current fellow:

The current BGC-AMNH fellowship project focuses on a specific area of material culture: Southeast Asian textiles, including textiles from Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Brunei, East Timor, Philippines. Past areas of specialization have included the indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest, Oceania, South American textiles, and Australian Aboriginal cultures. 

Urmila Mohan (Fall 2016–Summer 2018)


PhD, University College London
MFA, Pennsylvania State University
BA, Victoria University of Wellington
BFA, National Institute of Design

Research statement: My research involves a knowledge of South and Southeast Asia, a theoretical foundation in the study of material and visual culture, and an intimate knowledge of how materials work based on experience as an artist and ethnographer. My background in art, design, and anthropology has provided me with an applied knowledge of praxis and sensoriality. My doctoral dissertation dealt with cloth and clothing as materiality and sociality in a contemporary Hindu group. I discussed how techniques of embellishment and draping that were produced in one region traveled to other parts of the world to create a transnational identity. My BGC-AMNH postdoctoral project explores how cloth and clothing, collected by anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in Bali, Indonesia, in the 1930s, act as embodied means of transformation and power through their symbolic, aesthetic, and praxeological value. I have organized conferences and panels on the use of materials and visual imagery in relation to diverse issues such as ornament, nationalism, and subjectivation. I am a founder and editor of the Material Religions blog and am currently editing a journal special issue on religious materiality. Recent publications include “Dressing God: Clothing as Material of Religious Subjectivity in a Hindu Group” in The Social Life of Materials: Studies in Materials and Society (2015). My teaching philosophy draws on a cross-disciplinary approach across the social sciences and arts and humanities.

Past BGC-AMNH fellows include:

Shawn C. Rowlands (Fall 2014–Summer 2016)
Focus Project Exhibition: Frontier Shores: Collection, Entanglement, and the Manufacture of Identity in OceaniaApril 22–September 18, 2016

Nicola Sharratt (Fall 2012–Summer 2014)
Focus Project Exhibition: Carrying Coca: 1,500 Years of Andean Chuspas, April 11–August 3, 2014

Erin Hasinoff  (Fall 2010–Summer 2012)
Focus Project Exhibition: Confluences: An American Expedition to Northern Burma, 1935, April 4–August 4, 2013

Aaron J. Glass  (Fall 2008–Summer 2010)
Focus Project Exhibition: Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast, January 26–April 17, 2011