P02
Exhibiting anthropology

Convenors:
Trevor Marchand (SOAS)
Stream:
Location:
Anthropology Library
Start time:
9 June, 2012 at 9:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Exhibiting anthropology explores the processes and politics of translating fieldwork, ethnographic data and collected artefacts into museum and gallery exhibitions. How can anthropology be communicated in ways that are both accessible and do justice to the people, cultures and societies on display?

Long abstract:

The panel explores the processes and politics of translating fieldwork experience, ethnographic data and collected artefacts into museum and gallery exhibitions. Driving questions include: How do anthropologist-curators communicate their research to public audiences in ways that are both accessible and do justice to the people, cultures and societies on display? How might the ethnographic exhibition be reconceptualised? How might skill and practice-based knowledge be more effectively communicated to the visiting public? And how can new media technologies be effectively employed to record, study and display? Trevor Marchand's paper, grounded in his forthcoming exhibition on West African masons for the Smithsonian Institute, explores the potential and limitations in representing practice-based knowledge. In a similar vein, Myriem Naji draws on her recent Brunei Gallery show of Moroccan weavers to consider how skill can be conveyed, and the politics of translating such knowledge. Reflecting on his current Benue exhibition at UCLA's Fowler Museum, Richard Fardon's paper explores 'primitivist critiques' and ponders the possibilities of a 'positive response'. Shelagh Weir's investigation draws upon her former role as curator for the Museum of Mankind, and examines how Middle Eastern cultures are exhibited. Based on his working experience in the British Museum's Department of Ethnography, Brian Durrans examines the possibilities of transforming audiences into research partners in the process of reconfiguring 'the public' for museums and anthropology. Anna Portish reflects on her recent Brunei Gallery show of Kazakh syrmaq makers to consider the exhibition of textiles and craft practices. The panel invites additional paper submissions.