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Dr Sam Aylett

Profile summary

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Professional biography

I am a visiting fellow with The Open University in the Department of Arts and Humanities, and a General Assistant Editor for H-Material Culture. I received my PhD from the Open University in 2020, and my monograph, Legacies of an Imperial City, will be published with Routledge in December 2022:

Research interests

I am currently a visiting fellow at The Open University in the Department of Arts and Humanities, and a General Assistant Editor for H-Material Culture. I received my PhD in History from the Open University in 2020 with a thesis entitled 'The Museum of London 1976-2007: Reimagining Metropolitan Narratives in Postcolonial London'. I received my BA (Hons) in History and MA in Modern World History from Brunel University London from 2008-2015. My research is concerned with the place and value of empire in British culture in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Specifically, I am interested in the museum as a site for examining shifting representations of empire and public engagement with histories of empire. My research is interdisciplinary, and I work across the fields of imperial history, material culture studies, museum studies and critical heritage studies. More recently, I have become interested in the social power of architecture and the power that space and architecture assert over the museum visiting experience, especially how museum design affects the way the public understand histories of empire.

Teaching interests

As a Visiting Fellow I have been helping to develop new teaching resources for the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at the Open University with Dr John Slight. I have recently concluded the first stage of one of several projects: Biographies of Notable Female African and Asian figures from the 19th and 20th Centuries. This resource was developed as a starting point for understanding social, cultural and political changes in Africa and Asia, with a particular emphasis on feminist politics, suffrage movements, independence movements and anti-colonial activism: Ferguson Centre, 'Biographies of Notable Female African and Asian figures from the 19th and 20th Centuries', (Sam Aylett & John Slight)

From September 2018 - September 2019 I was an assistant lecturer and module team assistant for the pionerring A326 module,  'Empire 1492 - 1975'.

From April 2017 - September 2019, I worked as a PhD Tutor for the Brilliant Club, a UK charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly selective universities. I designed and taught my own module based on my own PhD research: Museums and Empire: Legacies of Slavery.

Impact and engagement


Aylett., S, Legacies of an Imperial City: The Museum of London 1976-2007 (London: Routledge, 2022).

Guest Lectures

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

Open Access Articles

  • Aylett., S. (2022) Networks of Influence: Peopling Collections at The Museum of London and Brooklyn Historical Society 1989-1994. Academia Letters, Article 4757.

Conference Presentations


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). A summary of our inaugural symposium can be read here: