Museums, objects and representation

The museum is an excellent place to open oneself to many new ideas and cultures.

Generally, however, curators discuss exhibition plans and other aspects of their work with colleagues inside and outside museums, and with educators and members of local communities likely to be interested in the subjects concerned.

Much current discussion of these questions is too abstract and ignores both the possibility that the 'museum effect' may work to the advantage of some or many visitors in respect of some or many subjects, and the responses of visitors to displays of specific types.

Perhaps less obvious, but in some ways even more important, are the limitations imposed on what curators can do - not just in exhibitions but also in other aspects of their research - by the nature and extent of the collections available to them.

Another is to see museums as influencing and influenced by alternative traditions and sites and modes of display (Hiller, ed., 1991).

Bourdieu’s (1977, 1984) application of the term habitus to the Algerian Berber home, as the principle which negotiates between practices and objective structures, functions as an analogy to the social systems in which Berber society operates. In this case the object which is distinguished is subservient to and merely illustrative of the person. The person-hood Bourdieu acknowledges in objects, through a sociological methodology, has been widely critiqued as homogenizing and universalizing. This physiognomic approach to objects is limiting and fails to take into account the specific cultural temporal and spatial contexts which a concept of objects with biographies offers.

Objects and Others: Essays on Museums and Material Culture

What is common to many theories concerned with the “life-histories” of things as a means of understanding how human social practices are objectified, is their focus on cultural context. Kopytoff and Appadurai approach in The Social Life of Things (1986) to mapping human identities through the biographies of things has had a huge impact on material culture studies. Their argument is that instead of contrasting objects with exchange value (such as commodities) to those of use value (such as a Maussian notion of the gift), it is more illuminating to attend to the social history or cultural biography of objects which instead reveal the politics of value, whereby at any point an object’s value or ‘singularization’ (Kopytoff, ibid) may be reversed. An example of this could be the transformation from use to exchange value that African artefacts undergo once circulating in the global art market.

Objects and others essays on museums and material culture

When looking through the museum the exhibits that are anthropological could enhance ones understanding of a culture.

Dyfri Williams, Research Keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities at the British Museum, several members of the audience stood up on behalf of Greece and expressed their outrage at the British Museum’s refusal to return the Parthenon Sculptures, or the Elgin Marbles, to the city of Athens.

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The museum considers the exhibition of these objects as a “close study of works that reveals the diversity of African cosmological systems and differing concepts of fate, destiny, and causality” (Rodriguez, 2010a)....

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A significant amount of material is available on the history of museum anthropology and of museums of natural history. is one of the most cited. Periodic assessments of the role of museums in anthropology have been offered, of which is still perhaps the most widely cited. A recent important contribution is , which includes reprints and original articles on the history of anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, the fourth-largest natural history museum in the world. Early volumes on the history of museums, such as , chronicled their development or placed museums in the context of the general development of the discipline as in . A general theme of more recent historical writings concerns the problematic relationship between the colonial roots of museum collections’ projects and contemporary theorizing and decolonizing processes in anthropology, as discussed in , , , and .

It is perhaps best known for its collection of. objects and others essays on museums and material culture Uzbek is the language of about twenty. 11

Leading scholars look back at the turning point of anthropology in America. Section IV contains articles by Boas, Wissler, and Lowie, among others, on Native American practices as preserved in museums.

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It is elaborated in the article, Global China: Material Culture and Connections in World History: " The significance of porcelain for the study of world history is due in part to its unique physical properties.