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Dr Sam Aylett

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Professional biography

I am a visiting fellow at The Open University in the Department of Arts and Humanities and a member of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies. I received my Ph.D. in History from the Open University in 2020 with my thesis which for the first time provided a comprehensive history of the Museum of London and gallery representations of London's imperial past, providing a holistic approach to galleries’ shifts from Victorian nostalgia to more equitable representations. My first monograph, Legacies of an Imperial City: The Museum of London 1976-2007, was published with Routledge in December 2022, and I am currently working on an edited collection, with my co-author Dr Matthew Jones, Empire, Museums and Decolonial Praxis, due to be published with Routledge in 2025. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Higher Education Academy. I also teach American history as it relates to labour, race, gender, and empire, at a Liberal Arts University in Berlin, Touro. 

legacies of an imperial city book cover

Research interests

My research is on British imperial history in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the history of museums. My research delves into museums as vital spaces for examining representations of empire and the public's interaction with its complex histories, spanning the UK, former British colonies, and Germany. My research approach is interdisciplinary, drawing from imperial history, material culture studies, museum studies, and critical heritage studies. This interdisciplinary lens allows me to grasp the multifaceted connections between culture, politics, and memory, enriching my understanding of historical narratives. One of the focal points of my research is the intersection between minority group demands for better representation and the heritage industry in the UK. Through this exploration, I aim to shed light on how these movements intersect with and influence narratives within the heritage sector, offering insights into Modern Britain's history and identity. As a scholar, I am committed to challenging conventional perspectives and fostering dialogue on issues of colonialism, race, and memory. Through rigorous scholarship, I aim to inspire new avenues of inquiry and understanding within academia and the broader public sphere.

Teaching interests

A328 Empires: 1492-1975

As a Visiting Fellow at the Open University, I contributed to the revalidation and overhaul of the pioneering module Empires 1492-1975, which introduced students to the origins of European and Asian empires empire to decolonization, considering important themes such as power, resistance, and legacies. In the main, I contributed materials on African Resistance to Imperialism, including units on "Nyasaland: The Chilembwe Rising 1915" & "Nigeria: The Women's War of 1929".

Before this, I taught on the predecessor A326 Module: Empire 1492-1975 as an assistant lecturer during my PhD.

Biographies of Notable Female African and Asian figures from the 19th and 20th Centuries

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, I co-authored a free, online teaching resource with The Open University’s Centre for Empire and Postcolonial Studies and its History Department: short biographies of pioneering and notable women from Africa and Asia, who were active in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These women are vitally important in helping us understand social, cultural, and political changes in Africa and Asia, with a particular emphasis on feminist politics, suffrage movements, independence movements, and anti-colonial activism. The creation of this teaching resource was driven by an ever-constant need to understand historical events from a variety of perspectives that are very often not presented in History teaching in the 'West'. 

Image: A contemporary depiction of Taytu Betul in Le Petit Journal, 1896.

Impact and engagement


Aylett., S, Legacies of an Imperial City: The Museum of London 1976-2007 (London: Routledge, 2022).

Edited Books

Aylett-Streitberg., S & Jones., M, Museums, Empire and Decolonial Practice (London, Routledge, 2025) ACCEPTED


Aylett-Streitberg, S., & Streitberg., I,  '"Dead on arrival"; Public Perceptions of the Humboldt Forum'. In (eds), Aylett-Streitberg., S & Jones., M, Museums, Empire and Decolonial Practice, (London, Routledge, 2025) ACCEPTED

Guest Lectures

  • 'Pride, Empire and Postcolonial Approaches at the Museum of London 1976-1993', New Museum Conversations, 24 October 2018, Museum of London, London Wall.

Conference Papers

Public Engagement

External collaborations

  • Adjunct lecturer for Touro College Berlin, where I teach a course on US History from 1877 - Present. 
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. 
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 


The Museum of London 1976-2007: Reimagining Metropolitan Narratives in Postcolonial London (2020-04-01)
Aylett, Samuel Paul Tobias
PhD thesis The Open University

The impact of architecture and space on understanding historical progress at the Museum of London (2020)
Aylett, Sam
Postgraduate Research Poster Competition, The Open University