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Dr Sarah Thomas

Lecturer in Curatorial and Museum Studies


I have over twenty years' lecturing and curatorial experience in the UK and Australia.

I completed my PhD in 2013 at the University of Sydney and, since moving to London in 2009, I have taught Art History and Museum /Curatorial Studies at Kingston University, Birkbeck College (University of London) and UCL.

I also recently wrote a book, Witnessing Slavery: Art and Travel in an Age of Abolition, which engages with current debates ranging from studies of empire; interest in the relationship between art and its related disciplines, anthropology, geography and science; the geopolitics of travel within the 'Black Atlantic'; and the critical agency of visual culture in the construction and consolidation of imperial power and identity. I have a special interest in colonial and post-colonial British art and its former colonies. As curator, my most recent exhibition is Colonial Afterlives, an examination of the legacies of empire in contemporary art. 

Areas of specialism

  • Curating
  • colonial/post-colonial art
  • visual representation of slavery
  • European art 18th and 19th centuries
  • Australian art
  • Art and travel
  • Caribbean art - colonial and contemporary
  • Art and empire


  • PhD (University of Sydney) 2013
  • Postgraduate Diploma Museum Studies (University of Sydney) 1990
  • BA (Hons) First Class Honours (University of Sydney) 1989

Professional membership

  • Association for Art Historians
  • Museums Association
  • Society for Caribbean Scholars
  • British Art Network


My recent research focuses on the art history and museology of the British empire, the role and particularities of the itinerant artist, the iconography of slavery, and the cultural legacies of British slave-ownership. Major publications include The Encounter, 1802: Art of the Flinders and Baudin Voyages (Art Gallery of South Australia, 2002); book chapters including 'Slaves and the spectacle of torture: British artists in the New World, 1800-1834' and 'Allegorizing Extinction: Humboldt, Darwin and the Valedictory Image'; journal articles such as 'The Spectre of Empire in the British Art Museum' (Museum History Journal, 2013) and '"On the Spot": Travelling Artists and Abolitionism, 1770-1830' (Atlantic Studies, June 2011). I am currently co-guest editing a special issue on ‘Colonial Caribbean Visual Cultures' of the journal Atlantic Studies with Dr Emily Senior.


Number of items: 10.


Thomas, Sarah (2018) Envisaging a future for slavery : Agostino Brunias and the imperial politics of labor and reproduction. Eighteenth-Century Studies, ISSN (print) 0013-2586 (In Press)

Thomas, Sarah (2013) The spectre of empire in the British art museum. Museum History Journal, 6(1), pp. 105-121. ISSN (print) 1936-9816

Thomas, Sarah (2011) "On the Spot": travelling artists and Abolitionism, 1770-1830. Atlantic Studies: Global Currents, 8(2), pp. 213-232. ISSN (print) 1478-8810


Thomas, Sarah (2002) The Encounter, 1802 : art of the Flinders and Baudin voyages. Adelaide, Australia : Art Gallery of South Australia. 228p. ISBN 0730830055

Book Section

Thomas, Sarah (2015) Allegorizing extinction: Humboldt, Darwin and the valedictory image. In: Brauer, Fae, (ed.) Picturing Evolution and Extinction. Newcastle, U.K. : Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443872539

Thomas, Sarah (2014) The artist travels: Augustus Earle at sea. In: Cusack, Tricia, (ed.) Framing the ocean, 1700 to the present: envisaging the sea as social space. Farnham, U.K. : Ashgate. pp. 71-83. ISBN 9781409465683

Thomas, Sarah (2013) Violence and memory: slavery in the museum. In: Rycroft, Daniel J., (ed.) World art and the legacies of colonial violence. Farnham, U.K. : Ashgate. pp. 113-132. ISBN 9781409455882

Thomas, Sarah (2011) Visualising Terra Australis: The Flinders and Baudin Expedition. In: Bunbury, Alisa, (ed.) This wondrous land : colonial art on paper. Melbourne, Australia : Melbourne National Gallery of Victoria. pp. 26-37. ISBN 9780724103447

Thomas, Sarah (2009) Slavery, a "Scandal to Christian Nations": Charles Darwin, Augustus Earle and the compass of morality. In: Hoorn, Jeanette, (ed.) Reframing Darwin: evolution and art in Australia. Carlton, Australia : Victoria Miegunyah Press. ISBN 9780522856842

Thomas, Sarah (2009) The Wanderer, the Slave and the Aboriginal: Augustus Earle in Rio de Janeiro and Sydney in the 1820s. In: Anderson, Jaynie, (ed.) Crossing cultures: conflict, migration and convergence. Carlton, Australia : Miegunyah Press. (The Proceedings of the 32nd International Congress in the History of Art) ISBN 9780522857108

This list was generated on Sun Jul 22 04:37:10 2018 BST.

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