Tiffany Jenkins is writer and cultural sociologist who splits her time between London and Edinburgh. A regular commentator on cultural and social issues, she has a weekly column in the Scotsman newspaper. Writing credits include the Art Newspaper, Apollo Magazine, Independent, Guardian & Spectator. She presented the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Beauty and the Brain’ which explores what brain science can tell us about art, and will present A Narrative History of Secrecy for BBC Radio 4 in 2016.
Her next book – Keeping Their Marbles: How Treasures of the Past Ended Up in Museums and Why They Should Stay There – tells the intriguing and sometimes bloody story of how the West came to acquire their treasures over the centuries. It explores why museums have become the target for repatriation claims in recent decades. And it argues that the objects so many want back should remain where they are – in the museums of the West – and should not now be returned to the lands from which they came. Keeping Their Marbles will be published in early 2016 by Oxford University Press. She is the author of Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections: The Crisis of Cultural Authority which looks at the influences at play on the controversy over human remains, and she is the editor of Political Culture, Soft Interventions and National Building.
Her academic research explores conflicts over the value of the arts, and how culture is given causal properties to ‘do stuff’ like raise self-esteem, regenerate community and contribute to the economy, even nation buildings, at the same time as western society is less and less clear on what culture is. Her research also examines the symbolic meanings and strategic use of human remains, and how the body becomes a locale for so many cultural, political, and ethical debates. This is the focus for the Bones Collective – a research network she is part of – at Edinburgh University. Previously, she was a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics, in the Department of Law, involved in establishing a research hub on cultural property, cultural policy, art law and heritage issues.