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Tom Crowley

Tom Crowley

Department: Archaeology

Supervisor: Dacia Viejo Rose

College: Jesus

AHRC Subject Area: Heritage

Title of Thesis: Heritage on the Margins: Brokerage and Enchantment on Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier



Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Himalayas

Enclaved Societies


I have come to Cambridge after four years working as a curator in the Anthropology Department of the Horniman Museum, South London. For the past 10 years I have revisited the same place in northwest Pakistan carrying out fieldwork, both in my capacity as a museum curator and previously as an MA anthropology student at SOAS.

My research topic focuses on the Kalasha of northwest Pakistan, the last followers of a pre-Islamic religion.  The Kalasha population has been shrinking for centuries, but in recent years there is a generally held belief among the Kalasha that their numbers are stabilising or even growing. There are many reasons why may be the case, but a significant factor is almost certainly the creation of a group of special schools which teach Kalasha language and ‘culture’. Contemporary with the schools has been the foundation of a Kalasha museum, a building which dwarfs everything for miles around. It is the effect of the schools and museum on how it feels to be Kalasha which is at the heart of what I want to understand.


Other Academic Interests


Museum collections from Arctic cultures

Museum collections of English folk and magical objects

Museum Collections from Tibetan speaking peoples

Ethnographic weaponry

Curatorial practice and public engagement

Landscape Archaeology of the Western Isles

Key Publications

  • Crowley, Tom, 2015. 'Rediscovering the Samson and Bailey collections: lost landscapes and London's Tibetans'. In Journal of Museum Ethnography, 28, pp173-183.
  • Crowley, Tom, Forthcoming. 'Bringing Questions of Authenticity and Identity from Northwest Pakistan to Southeast London: Collecting Kalasha dresses for the Horniman Museum'. In The Future of South Asian Collections.
  • Crowley, Tom and Mills, Andrew (eds.) Forthcoming. Weapons Violence and the Anthropology Museum. Norwich: Cambridge Scholars.
  • Crowley, Tom, Forthcoming. 'Horror in the Horniman: living with the Cuenca torture chair'. In Crowley, Tom and Mills, Andrew (eds.),  Weapons Violence and the Anthropology Museum. Norwich: Cambridge Scholars.