Universiteit Leiden

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Holly O'Farrell


H.B. O'Farrell
+31 71 527 8159

Holly O' Farrell is a researcher at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Holly O'Farrell

Holly O’Farrell comes from a PhD at the University of Limerick, Ireland. The focus of her research as a PhD candidate has been to look at nineteenth and early twentieth century exhibitions of Middle Eastern culture and question how social constructs intersect and influence the production of and reaction to such displays. The work questions how constructs such as gender, race and class can be mechanisms for implying, creating or maintaining hierarchies and stereotypes about the Middle East in Western minds and the use of exhibitions in supporting the imperialist project.

O’Farrell’s work with Museums, Collections and Society research group at Leiden University focuses on collectors and their collections during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is currently working on collections in Leiden and hope to expand the project from there.

The project seeks to understand whether collections by women were independent and reflected their own choices or was there a male presence behind the bulk of the collections. In a similar manner, Holly analyses women’s supporting role in expeditions, as companions and silent participants in the work of archaeologists, anthropologists and colonialists.

Working with Museums, Collections and Society, Holly O’Farrell’s work focuses on women collectors during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This lecture is an introduction to this topic and to the idea of photography as a form of collecting which women took part in. A number of women’s collections from the Museum of World Cultures will be explored as part of the lecture, as will some internationally famous collections. Ethnographic photographic collections have often been overlooked and it is important now to highlight their significance and contribution to museums, collections and knowledge.

Fields of interest

  • Representation
  • Material culture
  • Nineteenth and early twentieth century museums and collections
  • Intersectionality
  • Social constructionism
  • Space
  • Orientalism
  • Gender history
  • Middle East
  • British Imperialism


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • KG Musea en Collecties

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number A1.10


No relevant ancillary activities

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