Dr Christopher Morton

Research summary

My research centres on the overlapping histories of photography, anthropology and museum collections, especially how the visual technologies of the past have influenced the way that other cultures and societies have been understood within European social science, and how these legacies continue to shape social and cultural attitudes in the contemporary world. My recent research has focused on such things as early ethnographic photography from South Africa, colonial era photography magazines in West Africa, and the provenance of Australian material in the PRM collection. My latest book is a monograph on the photography of renowned British social anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard (The Anthropological Lens: Rethinking E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Oxford University Press 2019).

CV

Christopher Morton (MA MSt DPhil, Oxf) is Deputy Director and Head of Curatorial, Research and Teaching at the Pitt Rivers Museum, as well as Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Linacre College. He trained in History at the University of East Anglia before undertaking MSt and DPhil studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology at St Antony’s College, Oxford, between 1995 and 2002, during which time he conducted long-term fieldwork in Botswana. He joined the Pitt Rivers Museum in 2002 as a curatorial assistant and in 2006 he was appointed Curator of Photograph and Manuscript Collections, a specialist curatorial role that he continues to undertake at the Museum, alongside leading the Research team and managing the Balfour Library. He has curated over 35 exhibitions and published over 50 books and articles on the history of photography and museum collections.

 

Dr Morton is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society as well as the Royal Anthropological Institute, serving on its Council as a Trustee in 2016–18, as well as being a member of its Photographic Committee. From 2012 to 2018 he was Departmental Lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Oxford. Dr Morton is an Advisory Board member for the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology as well as the Centre for Eudaimonia and Human Flourishing, and an editorial board member of the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford (JASO). He also acts as GLAM Academic Advocate for Research Staff and represents the division on the University's Research Staff Steering Committee.

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2023    'Collaborating with the past: the ambrotypes of Shane Balkowitsch', Tribal Art, 110, 82-93.

2023    'Premier cartes de visite photographiques en Afrique du Sud'. In, Mondes Photographiques: Histoires des débuts, edited by Christine Barthe. Coédition : musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac/Actes Sud.

2023     'Attempted portrait: from cover to context in Evans-Pritchard's Luo photography'. In A Touch of Genius: The Life, Work, and Influence of Sir Edward Evans-Pritchard, edited by André Singer. London: Royal Anthropological Institute/Sean Kingston Publishing, 193-7.

2022     Dwelling practices and the reproduction of marginality among the Mbanderu of Ngamiland, Botswana, Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford Online, New Series, Volume XIV, 5-30.

2021    ‘Rephotography as a value creation technology in the 19th Century: Collecting, reproducing and exchanging’. In Museums, Societies and the Creation of Value, edited by Howard Morphy and Robyn McKenzie. London: Routledge.

2021    ‘Out of frame’. In Pieces of a Nation: South Sudanese Heritage and Museum Collections [open access - read online], edited by Zoë Cormack and Cherry Leonardi. London: Sidestone Press, 117-122.

2021    ‘A diary in the loose sense of the term: Henry Balfour and the 1914 Australian meeting’. In A Trip to the Dominions: The Scientific Event that Changed Australia, edited by Lynette Russell. Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, pp 68-91.

2021    Review of Roger Sansi (ed) The Anthropologist as Curator, Anthropos, Vol. 116/1, 271-2.

2020     The Anthropological Lens: Rethinking E. E. Evans-Pritchard. Oxford: Oxford University Press (monograph).

2020    ‘Attempted portraits: photography, obscurity, and the articulation of the past’, Kronos Vol 46, No. 1, 54-71 (Special Issue; Other Lives of the Image, edited by Patricia Hayes and Iona Gilbert) [open access - read online]

2019    ‘From significant surface to historical presence: photography as a site of social engagement in the museum’, Daguerrotype: Studies in the History and Theory of Photography, No. 2 (26), 67-93.

2018     ‘Photography, anthropology of’, in Cox, R. & Callan, H. (ed.), International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology: Anthropology Beyond Text. International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, vol. 12, 1 edn, New York: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1621

2018     Review of Filip De Boeck and Sammy Baloji, Suturing the City: living together in Congo’s urban worlds (London: Autograph ABP, 2016), Africa, Volume 88Issue 4 

November 2018, pp. 891-892.

2018    ‘The graphicalization of description: drawing and photography in the fieldwork journals and museum work of Henry Balfour, Anthropology and Photography, Vol. 10. (London: Royal Anthropological Institute) [open access - read online].

2018    ‘La description graphique. Dessins et photographies dans les carnets de terrain et le travail de conservateur de Henry Balfour’, Gradhiva (Special issue: ‘Sur le vif. Photographie et anthropologie’ edited by Camille Joseph and Anaïs Mauuarin), No. 27, 58-89.

2015    (with Haidy Geismar) ‘Introduction’, in Photographies (Special Issue: ‘Reasserting Presence, Reclamation and Desire’ edited by Haidy Geismar and Christopher Morton), Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sept), 231-233.

2015    ‘The ancestral image in the present tense’, Photographies (Special Issue: ‘Reasserting Presence, Reclamation and Desire’ edited by Haidy Geismar and Christopher Morton), Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sept), 253-270.

2015    (with Jeremy Coote) ‘“Dressed as a New Zealander” or an Ethnographic Mischmasch? Notes and Reflections on Two Photographs by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)’, Journal of Museum Ethnography, 28, 150-172.

2015    (co-edited with Elizabeth Edwards), Photographs, Museums, Collections: Between Art and Information. London: Bloomsbury.

2015    (co-edited with Darren Newbury), The African Photographic Archive: Research and Curatorial Strategies. London: Bloomsbury.

2015    ‘Reasserting Presence, Reclamation and Desire’, Special Issue of Photographies, (co-edited with Haidy Geismar, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Sept).

2015    ‘Introduction’ in Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton (eds) Photographs, Museums, Collections: Between Art and Information. London: Bloomsbury.

2015    ‘Collecting portraits, exhibiting race: Augustus Pitt-Rivers’s cartes-de-visite at the South Kensington Museum’ in Elizabeth Edwards and Christopher Morton (eds) Photographs, Museums, Collections: Between Art and Information. London: Bloomsbury, 101-118.

2015    ‘Introduction’ in Christopher Morton and Darren Newbury (eds) The African Photographic Archive: Research and Curatorial Strategies. London: Bloomsbury.

2015    ‘Richard Buchta and the visual representation of Equatoria in the later nineteenth century’, in Christopher Morton and Darren Newbury (eds) The African Photographic Archive: Research and Curatorial Strategies. London: Bloomsbury.

2015    (with Gilbert Oteyo) ‘The Paro Manene project: exhibiting and researching photographic histories in western Kenya’ in International Handbooks of Museum Studies (ed. Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy), Vol. 4: Museum Transformations (ed. Annie E. Coombes and Ruth B. Phillips), pp 311-335.

2014    ‘Observations from the Interface: Photography, Ethnography, and Digital Projects at the Pitt Rivers Museum’, in Uncertain Images: Museums and the Work of Photographs, edited by Elizabeth Edwards and Sigrid Lien. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 243-260.

2014    ‘Photographic collaboration in anthropology, past and present’, Photoworks, Issue 21, pp. 179-180.

2014    ‘The Place of Photographs in the Collections, Displays, and Other Work of General Pitt-Rivers’, Museum History Journal, Vol. 7, no. 2 (July; Special issue, edited by Jeremy Coote and Alison Petch, on ‘Archaeology, Anthropology, and Museums, 1851-2014: Rethinking Pitt-Rivers and His Legacy’), pp. 168-187.

2014    ‘Reconnecting and researching Australian Aboriginal photographs’, The Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum Newsletter, Issue 79, p5.

2012    ‘Photography and the comparative method: the construction of an anthropological archive’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 18, No. 2, 369–96.

2012     ‘Double alienation: Evans-Pritchard’s Zande and Nuer photographs in comparative perspective’, in Vokes, Richard (ed) Photography in Africa: Ethnographic Perspectives. Oxford: James Currey, 33–55.

2012    ‘Spiritual repatriation and the archive in Christian Thompson’s We Bury Our Own’, in Christian Thompson – We Bury Our Own (exhibition catalogue). Fitzroy: Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, 13–15.

2011    Review of Wendy A. Grossman, Man Ray, African Art, and the Modernist Lens. Washington, D.C.: International Arts and Artists, 2009. Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation, Vol. XXVII, No. 4, 376–9.

2011     Review of Henrietta Lidchi and Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie (eds), Visual Currencies: Reflections on Native Photography, Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland, 2009. Journal of Museum Ethnography, No. 23, 182–4.

2010     (co-edited with Philip N. Grover), Wilfred Thesiger in Africa. London: Harper Collins.

2010    ‘Fotografie dell’Africa del Pitt Rivers Museum, Università di Oxford’, in Walter Liva (ed) Sguardi sull’Africa. Centro di Ricerca e Archiviazione della Fotografia/ Comune di San Vito al Tagliamento (Italy), 72.

2010     Morton, Christopher and Schuyler Jones, ‘Wilfred Thesiger’s Photograph Collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum’, in Christopher Morton and Philip N. Grover (eds) Wilfred Thesiger in Africa. London: Harper Collins, 127–43.

2010     (with Philip N. Grover), ‘Wilfred Thesiger’s African Photographs: A Centenary Selection’, in Christopher Morton and Philip N. Grover (eds) Wilfred Thesiger in Africa. London: Harper Collins, 144–262.

2010     (with Jeremy Coote), ‘Visual Traditions of Eastern Africa: Report on a Colloquium’, ACASA Newsletter [The Arts Council of the African Studies Association Newsletter], Vol. 86 (Fall), pp. 27-8.

2010     (with Heather Richardson), ‘Conservation of the Woodthorpe albums’, The Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum Newsletter, no. 68 (July 2010), p. 5.

2009     Edwards, Elizabeth and Christopher Morton, ‘Introduction’, in Morton, Christopher and Elizabeth Edwards (eds), Photography, Anthropology and History: Expanding the Frame. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 1–24.

2009    ‘The initiation of Kamanga: visuality and textuality in Evans-Pritchard’s Zande ethnography’, in Morton, Christopher and Elizabeth Edwards (eds), Photography, Anthropology and History: Expanding the Frame. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 119–42.

2009    (co-edited with Elizabeth Edwards), Photography, Anthropology and History: Expanding the Frame. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.

2009    (with G. Oteyo) ‘Paro Manene: Exhibiting Photographic Histories in Western Kenya’, Journal of Museum Ethnography, No. 22 (Dec.), 155–64.

2009    ‘Fieldwork and the participant-photographer: E. E. Evans-Pritchard and the Nuer rite of gorot’, Visual Anthropology, 22 (4), 252–74.

2007   ‘Remembering the house: memory and materiality in northern Botswana’, Journal of Material Culture, 12 (2) (July), 157–79.

2007   ‘Evans-Pritchard and Malinowski: the roots of a complex relationship’, History of Anthropology Newsletter, 34 (20), 10–16.

2006    Review of Sebastião Salgado’s Sahel: The End of the Road (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2004) Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 79(1), Winter 2006, 175–7.

2005    Visualising southern Sudan: a museological resource, The Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum Newsletter, Issue 52 (April).

2005    ‘The anthropologist as photographer: reading the monograph and reading the archive’, Visual Anthropology, Vol. 18(4), 389–405.

2004    (with Jeremy Coote) ‘Encounters with Africa: Cheltenham’s collections revealed’ (exhibition review), Journal of Museum Ethnography, No. 16, 173-177.

2004    ‘Fixity and fluidity: chiefly authority and settlement movement in colonial Botswana’, History and Anthropology Vol. 15, No. 4. (Dec.), 345–65.

2002    ‘Building, place and perception: the development of a drinks-can building style in northern Botswana’, Journal of Museum Ethnography, No. 14, 60–73.

2000    (with Jeremy Coote) ‘A glimpse of the Guinea Coast: regarding an African exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum’, Journal of Museum Ethnography, No. 12, 39–56.

2000    (Jeremy Coote, Christopher Morton and Julia Nicholson), Transformations: the Art of Recycling. Oxford: Pitt Rivers Museum