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Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp


Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp is Assistant Curator of Anthropology, and works on the African collections.

Johanna completed a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University (2003-2006) before going on to study for a Masters in Cultural Heritage Studies at UCL (2006-2007). During this time she developed an interest in Swedish Saami youth culture, in particular electronic recordings of Jojk: a traditional form of Saami vocal music. After her Masters, Johanna worked as an archaeologist in London.

Johanna's interest in African culture and heritage developed during her Doctoral research (2009-2011) where she undertook ethnographic fieldwork in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and worked on the development of a digital archive of Sierra Leonean collections from the UK and Sierra Leone.  This included collaborating with colleagues at the Sierra Leone National Museum to digitise and catalogue their collection, and supporting the production of a series of short documentaries on Sierra Leonean heritage.

Johanna currently shares her job at the Horniman with a Teaching Fellowship at UCL where she co-ordinates and teaches courses for the MA in Museum Studies.

Research interests

  • Cultural heritage, development and modernity in Sierra Leone
  • History of Sierra Leonean ethnographic collections
  • Missionary collecting practices in West and Central Africa
  • West African Pentecostal Christianity
  • Curiosity, discovery and enchantment in museums
  • The human desire for elsewhere
  • Ethical museum practice surrounding the curation of ethnographic collections

Conference presentations

June 2013. Working with 'origin communities' at the Horniman Museum: A global perspective. Museum Ethnographers Group 'Engaging Curators' workshop, Great North Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

April 2013. Negotiating knowledge: 'Facebooking' problematic narratives in Sierra Leone. Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

June 2012. The power of culture for development in Sierra Leone: reproduction and transformation of Western heritage discourse. Association of Critical Heritage Studies Inaugural Conference, University of Gothenburg.

March 2012. Un-capitalising Human Rights: translations of morality through encounters of culture, heritage, and development. Heritage that Heals: Post-conflict Uses and Abuses of Heritage in Africa, University of Gothenburg.

February 2011. Encounters of Culture, Heritage and Development: a case study from the Sierra Leone National Museum. Pitt Rivers Museum Anthropology Seminar Series. University of Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum.

July 2010. Reanimating Cultural Heritage in Sierra Leone: A search for the source community. Museums and Restitution, University of Manchester. The Manchester Museum.


  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. & Basu, P. 2014. Contemplating Culture for Development: ‘Dysfunctional Heritage’ in Sierra Leone. In Basu, P. and Modest, W. (eds) Routledge series in Culture and Development. Forthcoming.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. 2014. Rev. Lionel G. West and his ‘Congo Curios’. In Jacobs, K., Knowles, C., Wingfield, C. (eds) Trophies, Relics and Curios? Missionary heritage in Africa and the Pacific. Forthcoming.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. 2014. Review of Fetish Modernity, touring exhibition at Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. 19 October 2013 – 30 March 2014. Museum Worlds. Forthcoming.
  • Zetterstrom-Sharp, J. 2014. The Future of Ethnographic Museums. Anthropology Today 29/6: 27.