Meghan O'Brien Backhouse

Research Summary

Meghan O’Brien Backhouse is currently a Project Researcher for the Action for Restitution to Africa project and the Devolving Restitution: African Collections in UK Museums Beyond London at the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. These projects, which are firmly rooted in object collections, allow her to draw on her professional background in scoping collections, provenance research, and collections ethics. 

In addition to general collections work, and provenance work, she has been particularly involved in the care of the collections of human remains. Most recently, in consultation with Indigenous Peoples and community connected experts, she researched and developed a new database of Cultural/Ethnic Group Names for the Museum’s collection management system


Meghan O'Brien Backhouse's research and professional interests revolve around two primary themes. The first considers the creation and expression of contemporary identity. The second considers how to decentralise institutionally constructed knowledge so as to make museum collections information accessible to and reflective of global stakeholders. 

She has a BA in History from Providence College, USA, and an MPhil in Ethnology and Museum Ethnography from the University of Oxford. 


2020 | O’Brien Backhouse, Meghan. ‘The Power to Name: Creating an Ethnic Group Name database for the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford’. Poster presented at the Commonwealth Association of Museums and ICOM UK Triennial conference, Living Forward, Looking Back: Museum Practice for Postcolonial Futures, 11-13 March 2020, Cape Town, South Africa.

2017 | O'Brien Backhouse, Meghan and Ben Hill. ‘Moving Human Remains’, a paper presented at the 50th Annual International Conference Migration, Home and Belonging of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography (ICME), 17-19 November 2017, Washington, D.C. 

2009 | O'Brien Backhouse, Meghan. ‘Re-enacting the Wars of the Roses: History and Identity’, in Ashton, P. and Kean, H. (eds.) People and their Pasts: Public History Today (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp 113-130.