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.


Past Themes and Alumni Fellows:

Hadley Welch Jensen (Fall 2018-Summer 2020)

The BGC-AMNH fellowship project will explore the effects of intercultural exchange and colonial encounter on the material worlds of Native North America, as expressed in and through textiles.  This project will draw upon the exceptional Southwestern textile collections at AMNH, specifically the historic Navajo blankets donated by Mrs. Russell Sage and J. Pierpont Morgan, as well as the U.S. Hollister Collection.

Hadley Jensen pic

PhD, Bard Graduate Center
MA, Bard Graduate Center
BA, Colorado College

Research statement: My research addresses the intersections between art, anthropology, and material culture. My doctoral dissertation, Shaped by the Camera: Navajo Weavers and the Photography of Making in the American Southwest, 1880-1945, examines the visual documentation of Navajo weaving through various modes and media of representation. I believe in the close examination of objects as an integral part of learning about their material qualities and methods of production, and I am particularly interested in advancing interdisciplinary methodologies to better understand processes of making. In addition, I have hands-on experience learning indigenous weaving & natural dyeing practices (Navajo and Zapotec), which have strengthened and enlivened my work as an academic researcher, curator, and teacher. I have developed my interests in museum anthropology, textiles, and ethnographic media in a variety of fellowship positions and research opportunities, including at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History, de Young Museum, Otsego Institute for Native American Art History, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, and the Autry Museum of the American West. My work has also been supported by the Textile Society of America, The Center for Craft, and the Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.


Urmila Mohan (Fall 2016–Summer 2018)

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.


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.


News Feature

Aaron Glass BARD pic

In the fall, AMNH-Bard Postdoctoral Research Fellow Alum and Bard associate Professor Aaron Glass and Professor Jennifer Mass led students on a research trip to the American Museum of Natural History where they conducted portable XRF (x-ray fluorescence) testing.

“Here we have the remarkable benefit of being able to study the history of anthropological museology five blocks from where Franz Boas revolutionized the field at the American Museum of Natural History…”
—Aaron Glass is associate professor and teaches courses on the Native peoples of the Northwest Coast and museums and anthropology.

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 Oceania, April 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