Photo of Dr Bryony Onciul

Dr Bryony Onciul

Senior Lecturer in Public History

01326 253763

01326 253763

Bryony Onciul is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus.


She researches and publishes on community engagement, indigenising and decolonizing museology and heritage, difficult histories, apologies, truth and reconciliation, identity and performance, understanding place and environment, and the power and politics of representation.

She teaches undergraduate history modules on public history and Indigenous history, and supervises PhD students.

Bryony is the Director of PGT and the Director of a new MA and MRes in International Heritage Management and Consultancy.

Bryony is the author of Museums, Heritage and Indigenous Voice: Decolonizing Engagement, published by Routledge. The book focuses on Blackfoot First Nations engagement and self-representation in museums and heritage sites in Alberta, Canada.

She is also the lead editor of Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities published by Boydell and Brewer.

Bryony is currently working on two AHRC funded research projects: Enduring Connections and Troubled Waters - Reaching Out.

Bryony reviews for International Journal of Heritage Studies, Journal of Museum Ethnography, Museum and Society Journal, International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, HEA’s Teaching History in Higher Education, E-pisteme journal, and Routledge.

Research interests

Bryony’s main research interests include community engagement, heritage, Indigenising and decolonising museology, (post)colonial narratives, difficult histories, identity and performance, understanding place, the effects of climate change on heritage management, the power and politics of representation, repatriation, apologies, truth and reconciliation.

Research collaborations

'Enduring Connections' 2017-2018

This project is funded by AHRC Translating Cultures/Care for the Future Innovation Awards on International Development.

'Troubled Waters - Reaching Out' 2017-2018

This project is funded by AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement (Connected Communities Highlight Notice)

'Mulliontide' 2016-2017

This project was funded by the Exchange Grant. This was an interdisciplinary collaborative project with artist Louise Ann Wilson, theatre company Golden Tree and the National Trust.

‘Troubled Waters, Stormy Futures: heritage in times of accelerated climate change’. 2014 - 2016

This project was funded by the AHRC Care for the Future Early Careers Development Grant . It was an interdisciplinary collaborative project with the University of Exeter, Aberystwyth University, University of Birmingham, Monash University, The National Library of Wales, National Welsh College, Cornish Audio Visual Archives, and The National Trust.

‘Apologies for Historical Wrongs: When, How, Why?’ 2014 - 2015

This project was funded by the AHRC Care for the Future Early Careers Development Grant. This was an interdisciplinary collaborative project with the University of Exeter, University of Surrey, University of Leeds, University of Ulster, Indigeneity in the Contemporary World: Performance, Politics and Belonging, and the Peace and Reconciliation Group.

Research supervision

I welcome interest from potential postgraduate students in any of the following areas, in particular Indigenous history, material cultural, intangible heritage, sense of place, museology and heritage studies:

  • Community engagement in heritage management
  • Cross-cultural dialogue
  • Colonial and postcolonial history
  • Repatriation
  • Apologies for historical wrongs, truth and reconciliation
  • Decolonisation processes
  • Identity, memory, culture and performance
  • Environment and sense of place
  • Public History

Research students

Current PhD Students:

Lesley Trotter. Provisional title: 'Oceans Apart – Nineteenth century emigration from Cornwall as experienced by the wives ‘left behind’' (Second Supervisor)

Amanda Phipps. Provisional title: ‘Representations of the First World War in Theatre during the Centenary’ (Mentor)

Contribution to discipline

Chair and Founder of the UK Chapter of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS)

Member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS)

Member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College

Referee for New Zealand's Marsden Fund

Referee for Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Fund


Bryony Onciul has been recognised for her outstanding teaching and was nominated for a teaching award in 2013 and commended for her teaching in 2017. Her modules are innovative and engaging.

Bryony’s UG year 1 core module HIC1200 Public History runs for two semesters and introduces students to the field of public history. It brings together theory and practice through site visits, oral history projects, digital apps, and student placements.

HIC2200 Public History Project follows on from HIC1200 as an optional second year module which enables students to work collaboratively with external bodies, such as museums, archives and heritage sites to develop original research and public history outputs, such as exhibitions (both physical and virtual), public talks, articles, planning reports, and school workshops.

Bryony’s third year module, HIC3311 Indigenous History, Colonialism and Identity in Western Canada is a research led course that speaks to Bryony’s key research interests.

In addition to these UG modules, Bryony contributes to team teaching, and is currently developing a new MA and MRes. She supervises PhD students researching topics related to her research interests and welcomes inquiries from potential post-graduate MRes and PhD students.

Modules taught


Dr Bryony Onciul earned her BA in History and Politics from the University of Nottingham, an  MA in Heritage Education and Interpretation from Newcastle University, and went on to study her PhD funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council at the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University. She studied at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, as part of her undergraduate degree and did extensive research in Canada as part of her MA and PhD.

Bryony’s research in history, heritage and museology continues to take her overseas and she is currently working on projects in the UK, Canada, and the Pacific.

Bryony previously taught at Newcastle University in the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, where she delivered MA programmes on Museum, Gallery and Heritage Studies and developed two new undergraduate modules: Arts and Heritage Media; and Exhibiting Art, Exhibiting Cultures. In September 2012 Bryony joined the University of Exeter as a Lecturer in Public History.