Chukyi Kyaping

Working Title of PhD: Decolonising the sacred: Acknowledging the colonial experiences of Tibetan Buddhist collections in the British Museum


  • Dr. Emma Martin
  • Dr. Gregory Scott
  • Dr. Imma Ramos (The British Museum)
  • Dr. Yu-Ping Luk (The British Museum)

Overview of PhD

In collaboration with The British Museum, my research examines colonial entanglements in its Tibetan Buddhist collection and interrogates the legacy of epistemic injustice within the museum archive. While collections have never been more accessible to the general public, the production of material knowledge in these collections continues to be shaped by Eurocentric terminologies and classifications.

Though museums are traditionally seen as memory institutions, this project asks whose stories were silenced and forgotten by a process of documentation which has historically disadvantaged indigenous systems of knowledge and knowledge dissemination.

I seek to rectify and fill these silences with a two-pronged approach: first, I plan to embed historicity and specificity into the collection using object biographies and necrographies. I will then explore democratic and reciprocal modes of engagement with Tibetan communities to collaboratively create methods of documentation and classification which centre native perspectives, knowledge, and experiences.


I have an MA in Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies from SOAS University of London, and a BA in History from Ursinus College (Pennsylvania, USA). My research interests include Himalayan art, museum ethnography, decoloniality, and contact zones.

I have worked with a range of museum collections across the United States, through various internships and projects at the Rubin Museum of Art, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library (Columbia University), the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

PhD-related publications, presentations or other outputs

Kyaping, C. 2021. 'Exhibition Review of Performing Tibetan Identities: Photographic Portraits by Nyema Droma. Yeshe: A Journal of Tibetan Literature, Arts and Humanities, vol. 1. Online.


Twitter: @chukyap8