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About You

First Name
Last Name
Job Title
Resesarch Anthropologist; Curator; Dir., ACHP
Asian Cultural History Program
Smithsonian Institution

Your Background

Your Biography

PAUL MICHAEL TAYLOR, a research anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, is Director of that museum's Asian Cultural History Program, and serves as Curator of Asian, European, and Middle Eastern Ethnology. He has published numerous books and scholarly articles on the ethnography, ethnobiology, languages, and art (or material culture) of Asia, especially Indonesia. He has also curated eighteen museum exhibitions (including five on-line virtual exhibitions), has served as the Director of Ethnographic Film Development for twelve documentary anthropological films, and has received numerous international grants and awards. As director of the Smithsonian’s Asian Cultural History Program, he has worked closely with many individuals and community organizations to establish “Heritage” projects at the Smithsonian. Each such project, including the Smithsonian’s Korean, Philippine, Thai, Taiwanese, Sikh, and other Heritage projects, has hosted regular performances, lectures, exhibitions, and other public programs. He serves as Principal Investigator of a major research and museum capacity-building project in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and eastern Turkey, funded by BP (Caspian) (see
Taylor previously published a web-based, peer-reviewed, multimedia edition of source materials and critical interpretations of a historic 1926 joint Smithsonian-Dutch expedition to western New Guinea (Papua, Indonesia). By Aeroplane to Pygmyland: Revisiting the 1926 Dutch and American Expedition to New Guinea (see: ) looks at the 1926 expedition from today’s perspective through interpretive essays by Taylor, and includes photographs, film footage, and previously unpublished diaries from the expedition, in a searchable, annotated format. He is now preparing another online publication of the edited field notes and correspondence of Smithsonian scientist W.L. Abbott (1860-1936), who traveled widely in Central, South, and Southeast Asia as well as East Africa and the Caribbean.
Aside from his Smithsonian position, Paul Taylor serves as Senior Consultant for Social and Resettlement Issues for the World Bank Inspection Panel, and has participated in investigations of social and environmental safeguards on development projects in China, Paraguay/Argentina, and Cambodia. He also serves as Director of Ethnographic Film Development for Essential TV (Overseas) Ltd. During his studies of rural social, ecological, and poverty-alleviation issues, and his work on documentary films, he lived for over four years in small tribal or rural villages of Southeast Asia.

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