by Subject: Museum Studies
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About the Hearth
Perspectives on the Home, Hearth and Household in the Circumpolar North
Anderson, D. G., Wishart, R. P., & Vaté, V. (eds)
Due to changing climates and demographics, questions of policy in the circumpolar north have focused attention on the very structures that people call home. Dwellings lie at the heart of many forms of negotiation. Based on years of in-depth research, this book presents and analyzes how the people of the circumpolar regions conceive, build, memorialize, and live in their dwellings. This book seeks to set a new standard for interdisciplinary work within the humanities and social sciences and includes anthropological work on vernacular architecture, environmental anthropology, household archaeology and demographics.
Cultural Revival, Tourism, and the Recrafting of History in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, commoditization and revitalization of culture and the arts do not necessarily work against each other; both revolve around value formation and the authentication of things. This book investigates the meaning and value of (art) objects as commodities in differing states of transit and transition: in the local place, on the market, in the museum. It provides an ethnographic account of commoditization in a context of revitalization of culture and the arts in Vanuatu, and the issues this generates, such as authentication of actions and things, indigenized copyright, and kastom disputes over ownership and the nature of kastom itself.
The Best We Share
Nation, Culture and World-Making in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is one of the most widely ratified international treaties, and a place on the World Heritage List is a widely coveted mark of distinction. Building on ethnographic fieldwork at Committee sessions, interviews and documentary study, the book links the change in operations of the World Heritage Committee with structural nation-centeredness, vulnerable procedures for evaluation, monitoring and decision-making, and loose heritage conceptions that have been inconsistently applied. As the most ambitious study of the World Heritage arena so far, this volume dissects the inner workings of a prominent global body, demonstrating the power of ethnography in the highly formalised and diplomatic context of a multilateral organisation.
Museum Collections in Political, Epistemic and Artistic Processes of Return
Bodenstein, F., Otoiu, D., & Troelenberg, E.-M. (eds)
Going beyond strictly legal and property-oriented aspects of the restitution debate, restitution is considered as part of a larger set of processes of return that affect museums and collections, as well as notions of heritage and object status. Covering a range of case studies and a global geography, the authors aim to historicize and bring depth to contemporary debates in relation to both the return of material culture and human remains. Defined as contested holdings, differing museum collections ranging from fine arts to physical anthropology provide connections between the treatment and conceptualization of collections that generally occupy separate realms in the museum world.
Crafting 'The Indian'
Knowledge, Desire, and Play in Indianist Reenactment
Kalshoven, P. T.
In Europe, Indian hobbyism, or Indianism, has developed out of a strong fascination with Native American life in the 18th and 19th centuries. “Indian hobbyists” dress in homemade replicas of clothing, craft museum-quality replicas of artifacts, meet in fields dotted with tepees and reenact aspects of North American Indian lifeworlds, using ethnographies, travel diaries, and museum collections as resources. Grounded in fieldwork set among networks of Indian hobbyists in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and the Czech Republic, this ethnography analyzes this contemporary practice of serious leisure with respect to the general human desire for play, metaphor, and allusion. It provides insights into the increasing popularity of reenactment practices as they relate to a deeper understanding of human perception, imagination, and creativity.
Curating Live Arts
Critical Perspectives, Essays, and Conversations on Theory and Practice
Davida, D., Pronovost, M., Hudom, V., & Gabriels, J. (eds)
Situated at the crossroads of performance practice, museology, and cultural studies, live arts curation has grown in recent years to become a vibrant interdisciplinary project and a genuine global phenomenon. Curating Live Arts brings together bold and innovative essays from an international group of theorist-practitioners to pose vital questions, propose future visions, and survey the landscape of this rapidly evolving discipline. Reflecting the field’s characteristic eclecticism, the writings assembled here offer practical and insightful investigations into the curation of theatre, dance, sound art, music, and other performance forms—not only in museums, but in community, site-specific, and time-based contexts, placing it at the forefront of contemporary dialogue and discourse.
Meaning and Mattering after Alfred Gell
Chua, L. & Elliott, M. (eds)
One of the most influential anthropological works of the last two decades, Alfred Gell’s Art and Agency is a provocative and ambitious work that both challenged and reshaped anthropological understandings of art, agency, creativity and the social. It has become a touchstone in contemporary artifact-based scholarship. This volume brings together leading anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians and other scholars into an interdisciplinary dialogue with Art and Agency, generating a timely re-engagement with the themes, issues and arguments at the heart of Gell’s work, which remains salient, and controversial, in the social sciences and humanities. Extending his theory into new territory – from music to literary technology and ontology to technological change – the contributors do not simply take stock, but also provoke, critically reassessing this important work while using it to challenge conceptual and disciplinary boundaries.
Emerging Technologies and Museums
Mediating Difficult Heritage
Stylianou-Lambert, T., Bounia, A., & Heraclidou, A. (eds)
How can emerging technologies display, reveal and negotiate difficult, dissonant, negative or undesirable heritage? Emerging technologies in museums have the potential to reveal unheard or silenced stories, challenge preconceptions, encourage emotional responses, introduce the unexpected, and overall provide alternative experiences. By examining varied theoretical approaches and case studies, authors demonstrate how “awkward”, contested, and rarely discussed subjects and stories are treated – or can be potentially treated - in a museum setting with the use of the latest technology.
Subjects: Museum Studies Heritage Studies Media Studies
Nineteenth-Century Museum Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution
Nichols, C. A.
As an historical account of the exchange of “duplicate specimens” between anthropologists at the Smithsonian Institution and museums, collectors, and schools around the world in the late nineteenth century, this book reveals connections between both well-known museums and little-known local institutions, created through the exchange of museum objects. It explores how anthropologists categorized some objects in their collections as “duplicate specimens,” making them potential candidates for exchange. This historical form of what museum professionals would now call deaccessioning considers the intellectual and technical requirement of classifying objects in museums, and suggests that a deeper understanding of past museum practice can inform mission-driven contemporary museum work.
Exhibiting Europe in Museums
Transnational Networks, Collections, Narratives, and Representations
Kaiser, W., Krankenhagen, S. & Poehls, K.
Museums of history and contemporary culture face many challenges in the modern age. One is how to react to processes of Europeanization and globalization, which require more cross-border cooperation and different ways of telling stories for visitors. This book investigates how museums exhibit Europe. Based on research in nearly 100 museums across the Continent and interviews with cultural policy makers and museum curators, it studies the growing transnational activities of state institutions, societal organizations, and people in the museum field such as attempts to Europeanize collection policy and collections as well as different strategies for making narratives more transnational like telling stories of European integration as shared history and discussing both inward and outward migration as a common experience and challenge. The book thus provides fascinating insights into a fast-changing museum landscape in Europe with wider implications for cultural policy and museums in other world regions.
Subjects: Museum Studies Memory Studies
Representing a cutting-edge study of the junction between theoretical anthropology, material culture studies, religious studies and museum anthropology, this study examines the interaction between the human and the nonhuman in a museum setting usually defined as ‘non-Western’, ‘non-scientific’ and ‘religious.’ Combining an on-site analysis of exhibitive spaces with archival research and interviews with museum curators, the chapters highlight contradictions of museum practices, and suggests that museum practitioners use museum spaces and artefacts as a way of formulating new theoretical stances in material culture studies, thus viewing museums as producers of theories together with affective engagements.
Extinct Monsters to Deep Time
Conflict, Compromise, and the Making of Smithsonian's Fossil Halls
Marsh, D. E.
Via the Smithsonian Institution, an exploration of the growing friction between the research and outreach functions of museums in the 21st century.
Describing participant observation and historical research at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History as it prepared for its largest-ever exhibit renovation, Deep Time, the author provides a grounded perspective on the inner-workings of the world’s largest natural history museum and the social processes of communicating science to the public.
From the introduction:
In exhibit projects, the tension plays out between curatorial staff—academic, research, or scientific staff charged with content—and exhibitions, public engagement, or educational staff—which I broadly group together as “audience advocates” charged with translating content for a broader public. I have heard Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the NMNH, say many times that if you look at dinosaur halls at different museums across the country, you can see whether the curators or the exhibits staff has “won.” At the American Museum of Natural History in New York, it was the curators. The hall is stark white and organized by phylogeny—or the evolutionary relationships of species—with simple, albeit long, text panels. At the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Johnson will tell you, it was the “exhibits people.” The hall is story driven and chronologically organized, full of big graphic prints, bold fonts, immersive and interactive spaces, and touchscreens. At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, where Johnson had previously been vice president and chief curator, “we actually fought to a draw.” That, he says, is the best outcome; a win on either side skews the final product too extremely in one direction or the other. This creative tension, when based on mutual respect, is often what makes good exhibitions.
Subjects: Museum Studies Anthropology (General)
Challenging Practices for 21st Century Museums
Were, G. & King, J. C. H. (eds)
By exploring the processes of collecting, which challenge the bounds of normally acceptable practice, this book debates the practice of collecting ‘difficult’ objects, from a historical and contemporary perspective; and discusses the acquisition of objects related to war and genocide, and those purchased from the internet, as well as considering human remains, mass produced objects and illicitly traded antiquities. The aim is to apply a critical approach to the rigidity of museums in maintaining essentially nineteenth-century ideas of collecting; and to move towards identifying priorities for collection policies in museums, which are inclusive of acquiring ‘difficult’ objects. Much of the book engages with the question of the limits to the practice of collecting as a means to think through the implementation of new strategies.
Subjects: Museum Studies Archaeology
Fetishes and Monuments
Afro-Brazilian Art and Culture in the 20th Century
One hundred years ago in Brazil the rituals of Candomblé were feared as sorcery and persecuted as crime. Its cult objects were fearsome fetishes. Nowadays, they are Afro-Brazilian cultural works of art, objects of museum display and public monuments. Focusing on the particular histories of objects, images, spaces and persons who embodied it, this book portrays the historical journey from weapons of sorcery looted by the police, to hidden living stones, to public works of art attacked by religious fanatics that see them as images of the Devil, former sorcerers who have become artists, writers, and philosophers. Addressing this history as a journey of objectification and appropriation, the author offers a fresh, unconventional, and illuminating look at questions of syncretism, hybridity and cultural resistance in Brazil and in the Black Atlantic in general.
From Antiquities to Heritage
Transformations of Cultural Memory
Eighteenth-century gentleman scholars collected antiquities. Nineteenth-century nation states built museums to preserve their historical monuments. In the present world, heritage is a global concern as well as an issue of identity politics. What does it mean when runic stones or medieval churches are transformed from antiquities to monuments to heritage sites? This book argues that the transformations concern more than words alone: They reflect fundamental changes in the way we experience the past, and the way historical objects are assigned meaning and value in the present. This book presents a series of cases from Norwegian culture to explore how historical objects and sites have changed in meaning over time. It contributes to the contemporary debates over collective memory and cultural heritage as well to our knowledge about early modern antiquarianism.
Subjects: Museum Studies Memory Studies Heritage Studies
From Storeroom to Stage
Romanian Attire and the Politics of Folklore
Departing from an ethnographic collection in London, From Storeroom to Stage traces the journey of its artefacts back to the Romanian villages where they were made 70 years ago, and to other places where similar objects are still in use. The book explores the role that material culture plays in the production of value and meaning by examining how folk objects are mobilized in national ideologies, transmissions of personal and family memory, museological discourses, and artistic acts.
The Future of Indigenous Museums
Perspectives from the Southwest Pacific
Stanley, N. (ed)
Indigenous museums and cultural centres have sprung up across the developing world, and particularly in the Southwest Pacific. They derive from a number of motives, ranging from the commercial to the cultural political (and many combine both). A close study of this phenomenon is not only valuable for museological practice but, as has been argued, it may challenge our current bedrock assumptions about the very nature and purpose of the museum. This book looks to the future of museum practice through examining how museums have evolved particularly in the non-western world to incorporate the present and the future in the display of culture. Of particular concern is the uses to which historic records are put in the service of community development and cultural renaissance.
Subjects: Museum Studies Anthropology (General)
Having and Belonging
Homes and Museums in Israel
The home and the museum are typically understood as divergent, even oppositional, social realms: whereas one evokes privacy and familial intimacy, the other is conceived of as a public institution oriented around various forms of civic identity. This meticulous, insightful book draws striking connections between both spheres, which play similar roles by housing objects and generating social narratives. Through fascinating explorations of the museums and domestic spaces of eight representative Israeli communities—Chabad, Moroccan, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Russian, Religious-Zionist, Christian Arab, and Muslim Arab—it gives a powerful account of museums’ role in state formation, proposing a new approach to collecting and categorizing particularly well-suited to societies in conflict.
Heritage Movements in Asia
Cultural Heritage Activism, Politics, and Identity
Mozaffari, A. & Jones, T. (eds)
Heritage processes vary according to cultural, national, geographical, and historical contexts. This volume is unique in that it is dedicated to approaching the analysis of heritage through the concepts of social movements. Adapting the latest developments in the field of social movements, the chapters examine the formation, use and contestation of heritage by various official, non-official and activist players and the spaces where such ongoing negotiations and contestation take place. By bringing social movements into heritage studies, the book advocates a shift of perspective in understanding heritage, one that is no longer bound by (at times arbitrary) divisions such as those assumed between the state and people or between experts and non-experts.
The Long Way Home
The Meaning and Values of Repatriation
Turnbull, P. & Pickering, M. (eds)
Indigenous peoples have long sought the return of ancestral human remains and associated artifacts from western museums and scientific institutions. Since the late 1970s their efforts have led museum curators and researchers to re-evaluate their practices and policies in respect to the scientific uses of human remains. New partnerships have been established between cultural and scientific institutions and indigenous communities. Human remains and culturally significant objects have been returned to the care of indigenous communities, although the fate of bones and burial artifacts in numerous collections remains unresolved and, in some instances, the subject of controversy. In this book, leading researchers from a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences reflect critically on the historical, cultural, ethical and scientific dimensions of repatriation. Through various case studies they consider the impact of repatriation: what have been the benefits, and in what ways has repatriation given rise to new problems for indigenous people, scientists and museum personnel. It features chapters by indigenous knowledge custodians, who reflect upon recent debates and interaction between indigenous people and researchers in disciplines with direct interests in the continued scientific preservation of human remains.
In this book, leading researchers from a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences reflect critically on the historical, cultural, ethical and scientific dimensions of repatriation. Through various case studies they consider the impact of repatriation: what have been the benefits, and in what ways has repatriation given rise to new problems for indigenous people, scientists and museum personnel. It features chapters by indigenous knowledge custodians, who reflect upon recent debates and interaction between indigenous people and researchers in disciplines with direct interests in the continued scientific preservation of human remains.
The Man Who Invented Aztec Crystal Skulls
The Adventures of Eugène Boban
MacLaren Walsh, J. & Topping, B.
Eugène Boban began life in humble circumstances in Paris, traveled to the California Gold Rush, and later became a recognized authority on pre-Columbian cultures. He also invented an entire category of archaeological artifact: the Aztec crystal skull. By his own admission, he successfully “palmed off” a number of these crystal skulls on the curators of Europe’s leading museums. How could that happen, and who was this man? Detailed are the travels, self-education, and archaeological explorations of Eugène Boban; this book also explores the circumstances that allowed him to sell fakes to museums that would remain undetected for over a century.
Subjects: Museum Studies Archaeology
The Museum of Mankind
Man and Boy in the British Museum Ethnography Department
The Museum of Mankind was an innovative and popular showcase for minority cultures from around the non-Western world from 1970 to 1997. This memoir is a critical appreciation of its achievements in the various roles of a national museum, of the personalities of its staff and of the issues raised in the representation of exotic cultures. Issues of changing museum theory and practice are raised in a detailed case-study that also focuses on the social life of the museum community. This is the first history of a remarkable museum and a memorable interlude in the long history of one of the world’s oldest and greatest museums. Although not presented as an academic study, it should be useful for museum and cultural studies as a well as a wider readership interested in the British Museum.
Changing Histories in South Africa
Museums flourished in post-apartheid South Africa. In older museums, there were renovations on the go, and at least fifty new museums opened. Most sought to depict violence and suffering under apartheid and the growth of resistance. These unlikely journeys are tracked as museums became a primary setting for contesting histories. From the renowned Robben Island Museum to the almost unknown Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum, the author demonstrates how an institution concerned with the conservation of the past is simultaneously a site for changing history.
Subjects: Museum Studies Cultural Studies (General)
Museum Websites and Social Media
Issues of Participation, Sustainability, Trust and Diversity
Sánchez Laws, A. L.
Online activities present a unique challenge for museums as they harness the potential of digital technology for sustainable development, trust building, and representations of diversity. This volume offers a holistic picture of museum online activities that can serve as a starting point for cross-disciplinary discussion. It is a resource for museum staff, students, designers, and researchers working at the intersection of cultural institutions and digital technologies. The aim is to provide insight into the issues behind designing and implementing web pages and social media to serve the broadest range of museum stakeholders.
Subjects: Museum Studies Media Studies
Museum, Place, Architecture and Narrative
Nordic Maritime Museums’ Portrayals of Shipping, Seafarers and Maritime Communities
A characteristic trait of the maritime museums is that they are often located in a contemporary and/or historical environment from which the collections and narratives originate. The museum can thereby be directly linked to the site and its history. It is therefore vital to investigate the maritime museums in terms of relationships between landscape, architecture, museum and collections. This volume unravels the kinds of worlds and realities the Nordic maritime museums stage, which identities and national myths they depict, and how they make use of both the surrounding maritime environments and the architectural properties of the museum buildings.
Playing with the Past
Exploring Values in Heritage Practice
Heritage is all around us, not just in monuments and museums, but in places that matter, in the countryside and in collections and stories. It touches all of us. How do we decide what to preserve? How do we make the case for heritage when there are so many other priorities? Playing with the Past is the first ever action-learning book about heritage. Over eighty creative activities and games encompass the basics of heritage practice, from management and decisionmaking to community engagement and leadership. Although designed to ‘train the trainers’, the activities in the book are relevant to anyone involved in caring for heritage.
Subjects: Museum Studies Heritage Studies Archaeology
Politics of Scale
New Directions in Critical Heritage Studies
Lähdesmäki, T., Thomas, S., & Zhu, Y. (eds)
Critical Heritage Studies is a new and fast-growing interdisciplinary field of study seeking to explore power relations involved in the production and meaning-making of cultural heritage. Politics of Scale offers a global, multi- and interdisciplinary point of view to the scaled nature of heritage, and provides a theoretical discussion on scale as a social construct and a method in Critical Heritage Studies. The international contributors provide examples and debates from a range of diverse countries, discuss how heritage and scale interact in current processes of heritage meaning-making, and explore heritage-scale relationship as a domain of politics.
Subjects: Heritage Studies Museum Studies
Sense and Essence
Heritage and the Cultural Production of the Real
Meyer, B. & van de Port, M. (eds)
Contrary to popular perceptions, cultural heritage is not given, but constantly in the making: a construction subject to dynamic processes of (re)inventing culture within particular social formations and bound to particular forms of mediation. Yet the appeal of cultural heritage often rests on its denial of being a fabrication, its promise to provide an essential ground to social-cultural identities. Taking this paradoxical feature as a point of departure, and anchoring the discussion to two heuristic concepts—the "politics of authentication" and "aesthetics of persuasion"—the chapters herein explore how this tension is central to the dynamics of heritage formation worldwide.
Suhr, C. & Willerslev, R. (eds)
The disruptive power of montage has often been regarded as a threat to scholarly representations of the social world. This volume asserts the opposite: that the destabilization of commonsense perception is the very precondition for transcending social and cultural categories. The contributors—anthropologists, filmmakers, photographers, and curators—explore the use of montage as a heuristic tool for comparative analysis in anthropological writing, film, and exhibition making. Exploring phenomena such as human perception, memory, visuality, ritual, time, and globalization, they apply montage to restructure our basic understanding of social reality. Furthermore, as George E. Marcus suggests in the afterword, the power of montage that this volume exposes lies in its ability to open the very “combustion chamber” of social theory by juxtaposing one’s claims to knowledge with the path undertaken to arrive at those claims.
Transforming Author Museums
From Sites of Pilgrimage to Cultural Hubs
Spring, U., Schimanski, J., & Aarbakke, T. (eds)
Literary museums today must respond to new challenges; the traditional image of the author’s home museum as a sacred place of literary pilgrimage centered around a national hero has been questioned, and literary museums have begun to develop new strategies centered not only on biography, but also literary texts, imagined spaces, different readers, historical contexts, architectural concepts, and artistic interventions. As this volume shows, the changing of spaces asks how literary museums create new ways of interlinking real and literary spaces, texts, objects, readers, and tourists.
Unlocking the Love-Lock
The History and Heritage of a Contemporary Custom
Explores the worldwide popularity of the love-lock as a ritual token of love and commitment by considering its history, symbolism, and heritage.
“[T]his is an eminently enjoyable and thorough investigation of a popular phenomenon through the lens of heritage and folk tradition.”—Sara De Nardi, Western Sydney University
A padlock is a mundane object, designed to fulfil a specific – and secular – purpose. A contemporary custom has given padlocks new significance. This custom is ‘love-locking’, where padlocks are engraved with names and attached to bridges in declaration of romantic commitment. This custom became popular in the 2000s, and its dissemination was rapid, geographically unbound, and highly divisive, with love-locks emerging in locations as diverse as Paris and Taiwan; New York and Seoul; Melbourne and Moscow.
From the introduction:
I was distractedly perusing the photo frame aisle, my eyes skimming the generically sentimental stock pictures of happy families smiling at the camera, pretty landscapes, cute pets and couples walking hand-in-hand, when I came across one that jumped out at me…. I recognised the image instantly as a photograph of love-locks: the padlocks that had been appearing en masse on bridges and other public structures on a global scale since the early 2000s. And, having been researching the custom known as lovelocking for about five years at that point, it was with a peculiar sense of pride that I realised love-locks had accomplished the status of a stock image.
Views of Violence
Representing the Second World War in German and European Museums and Memorials
Echternkamp, J. & Jaeger, S. (eds)
Twenty-first-century views of historical violence have been immeasurably influenced by cultural representations of the Second World War. Within Europe, one of the key sites for such representation has been the vast array of museums and memorials that reflect contemporary ideas of war, the roles of soldiers and civilians, and the self-perception of those who remember. This volume takes a historical perspective on museums covering the Second World War and explores how these institutions came to define political contexts and cultures of public memory in Germany, across Europe, and throughout the world.
Subject: Museum Studies Memory Studies
Visitors to the House of Memory
Identity and Political Education at the Jewish Museum Berlin
Bishop Kendzia, V.
As one of the most visited museums in Germany’s capital city, the Jewish Museum Berlin is a key site for understanding not only German-Jewish history, but also German identity in an era of unprecedented ethnic and religious diversity. Visitors to the House of Memory is an intimate exploration of how young Berliners experience the Museum. How do modern students relate to the museum’s evocative architecture, its cultural-political context, and its narrative of Jewish history? By accompanying a range of high school history students before, during, and after their visits to the museum, this book offers an illuminating exploration of political education, affect, remembrance, and belonging.
World Heritage on the Ground
Brumann, C. & Berliner, D. (eds)
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 set the contemporary standard for cultural and natural conservation. Today, a place on the World Heritage List is much sought after for tourism promotion, development funding, and national prestige. Presenting case studies from across the globe, particularly from Africa and Asia, anthropologists with situated expertise in specific World Heritage sites explore the consequences of the World Heritage framework and the global spread of the UNESCO heritage regime. This book shows how local and national circumstances interact with the global institutional framework in complex and unexpected ways. Often, the communities around World Heritage sites are constrained by these heritage regimes rather than empowered by them.