Fiona Kerlogue is the Deputy Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum. She has a PhD in South-East Asian Studies (Anthropology) from the University of Hull and an MA in film from the University of Westminster. She worked as a lecturer in English and Communication Studies before becoming interested in South-East Asian Anthropology.


After leaving school I attended an art college and then went on to train as a teacher. My first job was as an audio-visual technician at a college in Shropshire. After moving on to teaching there I obtained a post as a lecturer at Mid-Kent College of Higher and Further Education, teaching English and communication studies. During my time at Mid-Kent I began a part-time film studies course at Central London Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster). It started out simply as something for me to do in the evenings but ended up with me completing a full MA in film studies over three years of very hard work.

After nine years of lecturing at Mid-Kent I decided I wanted to do something more interesting with my life. That’s when I went off to do Voluntary Service Overseas. Just travelling was never enough to provide sufficient depth of insight into another culture. I felt I needed to actually live within another society. VSO work provided my first opportunity to do this and it was the experience that really changed my career direction. My VSO role was training English teachers in an Indonesian university. While I was there I was casting around for something to do in the evenings and had heard that there was a course in batik making being taught nearby. The course was intended for local women looking for additional income but I was allowed to join. The local tutor suggested that she could teach me better at home in her village. There I began to get really involved in village life and met the people with whom I would stay upon returning to do fieldwork.

On arriving back in England I started exploring the kind of material museums held from the part of Indonesia where I had worked. I found that nothing at all had been published on the material culture of this area. A curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum suggested that I might apply for PhD and study the subject myself. A few years later the opportunity arose for me to do so. I joined the University of Hull where I studied for a PhD in South-East Asian studies and anthropology. This was the first time that I had ever formally engaged with anthropology.

I went to Hull initially as a graduate teaching assistant, so I was working as a tutor and my PhD fees were paid for me. One of the courses I was asked to tutor for was Visual Anthropology. I knew a lot about the visual and not so much about the anthropology when I first arrived but maintained a theoretical interest in how documentaries were made and how people were represented.  Later I made my film ‘Fatmawati’s Wedding: The Wedding of Two Sisters’ while conducting fieldwork in Sumatra, so as to put into practice many of the ideas I had been teaching on the visual anthropology course. This film explores gender, marriage and kin relations as articulated through preparations for a joint wedding ceremony in a Sumatran village. On completing my PhD I continued teaching at the University of Hull Centre for South-East Asian studies and working with the university’s Southeast Asia Museum. After this I moved to the Horniman Museum.

As Deputy Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum I have responsibility for the Asia and Europe collections. I have to research the material, acquire new items and develop exhibitions and publications. I am also interested in museums as anthropological sites in themselves.

One of the great things about anthropology is that it can lead on to so many things. I would suggest that one of the things someone considering studying anthropology at university could think about is whether they can do fieldwork as part of the course. As for curatorial work in an anthropological museum, it is very hard to get into. You would probably have to spend several years volunteering and then on short term contracts before you could secure a permanent job.