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Mr Sam Aylett

Profile summary

  • Research Student
  • Research Student
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Arts & Humanities
  • History
  • sam.aylett

Professional biography

I studied History (BA Hons) and Modern World History (MA) at Brunel University London from 2008-2015. After graduating I moved to Berlin, and worked as a consultant from 2014-2016. I am currently reading for my PhD in Empire and Colonial History at the Open University (FT). 

#OU50 Samuel Aylett: The Museum of London 1976-2007

Research interests

My PhD looks at shifting representations of empire and British colonialism at the Museum of London from 1976-2007. Principally, I am concerned with the place and value of empire within the Museum of London's permanent galleries, and how this began to change in the late 1980s in response to shifting social and political discourses around race and immigration. Alongside this, I am concerned with the way visitors have responded to these shifting representations of Empire, and the various socio-cultural contexts which have conditioned those responses. 

Broadly speaking, I am interested in the museum as a locus for examining the cultural impact of empire and decolonisation in Britain throughout the twentieth century, and how the legacies of empire continue to shape Britain's past, present and future. My research is interdisciplinary, and I work across the fields of imperial history, material culture studies, museum studies and critical heritage studies. 

Teaching interests

I am currently an Associate Member of the Module Team for A326: Empire 1492 - 1975

Impact and engagement


The Rise and Fall of the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Heritage, Diversity and the Legacies of Empire, 17 May 2013, Institute for Historical Institute

The Museum of London’s Permanent Galleries, 1976: Prosperity, Trade and Empire, PhD Research Day, 8 June 2018, Open University, Milton Keynes

Pride, Empire and Postcolonial Approaches at the Museum of London 1976-1993, New Museum Conversations, 24 October 2018, Museum of London, London Wall

Imperial London to London, Sugar & Slavery: Empire at the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands 1976-2007, Researching Empire Workshop, 12th July 2019, Open University


'The Tropenmuseum Amsterdam – An Honest Reflection of the Dutch Colonial Past', History at the OU, Blog

External collaborations

Co-convenor and founder of the Postcolonial Heritage Research Group

The Postcolonial Heritage Research Group is a postgraduate research network aimed at providing a common platform to share writings and ideas, propose events, while promoting complex and provocative research across a number of inter-related questions pertaining to representations of empire, colonialism, and slavery at museums and art galleries.The group was founded in 2019 by myself, Matthew Jones (Sussex) and Advia Lawrence (Hull).  


iSEE 2014

In 2014 I was a member of a multi-skilled team from the Schools of Arts and Department of Computer Science (DCS) at Brunel University, exploring the feasibility of mobile apps for use at museum and heritage sites (iSEE). The project was funded by the Technology Strategy Board (66,000GBP) with a remit to explore innovative methods of software development that combine mobile device sensing and experience programming. The project aims to create a new platform for experience development, localised business models and smartphone apps.