Fiona McDonald

Assistant Professor

Office: ASC 266
Phone: 250.807.8127

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Visual anthropology; anthropology of art; sensory ethnography; material culture; curatorial studies; museum studies; textiles; oral history; contemporary Indigenous art; informal science learning and the environment; anthropocene; water rights; open access and digital publishing; North America & Aotearoa New Zealand.

Courses & Teaching

Visual & media anthropology; arts-based ethnography; anthropology of art; fieldwork methodologies; cultural anthropology; ethnography.


Fiona P. McDonald completed her PhD (2014) in the Department of Anthropology at University College London (UCL) in visual anthropology & material culture (Supervisors: Professor Susanne Kuechler and Professor Christopher Pinney). Her dissertation is entitled, Charting Material Memories: a visual and material ethnography of the transformations of woollen blankets in contemporary art, craft, and Indigenous regalia in Canada, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the United States . This project was undertaken as both an historic and contemporary visual and material ethnography of the material nature and transformations of woollen (trade) blankets that were produced in the United Kingdom since the seventeenth century. Her work addresses both historical and contemporary uses of woollen blankets through a direct examination of the pluralistic histories that things and objects have when re-worked and recycled by contemporary artists and customary makers in North American and Aotearoa New Zealand. Fiona is currently translating this research in to a book project.

In 2019, Fiona was awarded funding from Canadian Funding for Innovation (CFI) and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) to co-create with Professor Sue Frohlick the Collaborative and Experimental Ethnography Lab (CE2 Lab) at UBCO. The lab is home to two integrated research programs that focus upon Climate Justice + Social Change and Mobility + Social Change. Through the lab, Fiona leads two projects that address Climate Justice + Social Change: (1) Resilient Indigenous Housing; and (2) Sensory Storytelling.

Fiona is also the co-founder of Ethnographic Terminalia Collective (ETC) (est.2009), an international curatorial collective that curates exhibitions at the intersections of arts and anthropology. ETC have curated and organized exhibitions and workshops across North America (Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, Montreal, New York, Austin, Chicago, Denver, and Vancouver) where they aim to move academic research beyond the academy through public engagement.


Fiona McDonald’s Research Website
Fiona McDonald’s Lab Website
Fiona McDonald’s multimodal, Open Access Publication, An Anthropocene Primer.


PhD, University College London (UK)
Graduate Diploma University of Auckland (Aotearoa New Zealand)
MA, University of Alberta
BA, University of Alberta


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