Lissant Bolton is the Director of EMKP and Keeper of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the British Museum. As an anthropologist who specialises in the Pacific, her research focuses on gender and kastom in Vanuatu, and on the indigenous use of collections and cultural knowledge. She has a specific interest in textiles, and has also written about issues relating to museums and indigenous communities. Lissant has worked in Vanuatu annually from 1989 to 2012, and biannually since, collaborating with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre (VKS) in the development of programmes to document and revive women’s knowledge and practice. This programme, the Women’s Culture Project, holds almost annual training workshops for ni-Vanuatu women extension workers, which Lissant chairs for the VKS.
Lissant has published widely, for example in the monograph Unfolding the Moon (2003); in co-authored volumes such as Art in Oceania: A New History (2013); and in co-edited volumes, such as The Art of Gardens: Views from Melanesia and Amazonia (Anthropological Forum Special Issue 2021). She lead-curated the permanent gallery Living and Dying (2003), and curated the exhibitions Power and Taboo: Sacred Objects from the Pacific (2006), and Baskets and Belonging: Indigenous Australian Histories (2011) all for the British Museum.
Lissant was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the museum’s sector, and to anthropology” in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours.