Julia Ankenbrand


The focus of my PhD research is the question of how to develop agency for organisation development from a position of non-authority. Can you make change from any position within an organisation?

I work between the University of Leeds' Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage and the British Museum, funded through an Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award (CDA).

My starting point was an interest in participatory practice in cultural institutions, exploring how organisational culture, identity and processes in museums impact on their practice of public engagement.

For 2.5 years I based myself full-time at the British Museum using first-person action research, working with my own positionality. The discourse in museum studies has been focusing on change towards more collaborative models and logics. I argue that for these change endeavours to succeed more critical attention needs to be paid to the reality of working practice, and the impact of beliefs and day-to-day practice of the individuals making up these organisations.

Exploring critically my practice as a PhD student, and later employee, at the British Museum I developed a model for researching, being and professional practice based on a change-making construct and understanding of power that relies on relational working, awareness and emergence.

From 2018 to 2021 I was a Research  Associate on the Bradford's National Museum Project where my role was focused on the institutional development and change aspects of the project within the National Science and Media Museum.

  • AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award – University of Leeds & The British Museum
  • Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage
  • Association for Critical Heritage Studies – UK Chapter


  • MA Curating (University of the West of England)
  • MA European Ethnology, Sociology, English Cultural Studies (Julius-Maximilians-Universitat Wurzburg)