Ruth B. Phillips is Canada Research Chair and Professor of Art History at Carleton University, Ottawa. Originally trained as an historian of African art, she has devoted most of her career to the study of historical and contemporary Native North American art. She has also undertaken curatorial work and served as Director of the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology from 1997-2002.
Her books include Representing Woman: Sande Masquerades of the Mende of Sierra Leone (1995); Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast (1998); Native North American Art (co-authored with Janet Catherine Berlo, 1998); Unpacking Culture: Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds (co-edited with Christopher B. Steiner, 1999); and Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums, and Material Culture (co-edited with Elizabeth Edwards and Chris Gosden, 2006).
Phillips directs the Great Lakes Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures (GRASAC), an international research collaboration involving indigenous communities, museums and universities. In 2004 she was elected to a four-year term as president of CIHA, the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.