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Curiosity in Things Conference

Call for Papers

HELD IN TRUST: CURIOSITY IN THINGS

A conference co-sponsored by Otago Museum and the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, University of Otago

24-25 January 2019

Barclay Theatre, Otago Museum

The history of museums has largely been framed under the rubric of colonial domination or building cathedrals of science. But what are the bigger stories that motivated the creation of the collections?

Objects have the capacity to tell stories of lives and communities that are interconnected over space and time. Objects are the tangible material world of scientific endeavour and during the nineteenth century trade in them boomed, yet accounts of the political context surrounding their discovery and translocation are overlooked.

Looking beyond object biographies, tales of eccentric collectors, acquisition and institutional histories, this conference foregrounds the global context of commercial trade and exchange networks that contributed to the patterns of knowledge discovery and creation. What then are the bigger stories of culture, economics and politics that formed our colonial museums?

We invite contributions that address the broad theme of knowledge production in the colonial museum.

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor Tony Ballantyne FRSNZ Co-director Centre for Research on Colonial Culture and Pro-Vice Chancellor Humanities, University of Otago.
  • Professor Simon Ville, Senior Professor of Economic and Business History, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry in the Faculty of Law, Humanities and Arts, University of Woollongong.
  • Associate Professor Conal McCarthy, Director of the Museum and Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington.

Please send your abstract (max. 250 words) and one-page CV to crocc@otago.ac.nz by September 15th, 2018.

For further information, please contact Rosi Crane (Rosi.Crane@otagomuseum.nz).

Museums, Digital Collections and Indigenous Futures Talks

All are welcome to attend an open seminar on Thursday 22 February featuring two scholars who will speak about their current projects that aim to reconnect indigenous communities with objects and archives, making them available for future use and reinterpretation.

Location: Moot Court, 10th Floor, Richardson Building, starting at 10am

Associate Professor Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center, New York) will discuss his involvement in producing a new critical edition of anthropologist Franz Boas’s 1897 landmark book, The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians, which uses digital media to link museums, archives and communities while recuperating ethnographic records for current and future use. Not only did the volume make draw upon existing museum collections from around the world, Boas and his indigenous collaborator, George Hunt, left a vast archive of unpublished materials relevant to the creation and afterlife of the 1897 text, including hundreds of pages of Hunt’s corrections and amendments. An international and collaborative endeavour to create a new annotated critical edition of the book – both in print and in digital formats – unites published and unpublished materials with current Kwakwaka’wakw knowledge. This presentation discusses that project and presents an interactive prototype for the digital edition that re-embeds ethnographic knowledge within Indigenous epistemological frameworks and hereditary protocols for access.

Associate Professor Conal McCarthy (Victoria University of Wellington) will outline two current trends in museum research in Australia and Aotearoa: one looking back to the history of collections, ethnology and colonisation, and the other looking forward to digital technology, co-curating and an emerging indigenous Museology. It will briefly introduce various projects which aim to reconnect tribal descendants to ancestral heritage through digital tools which enable the reassembly of scattered records, material culture and images. It will introduce the Marsden-funed project ‘Te Ao Hou: Imagining Worlds in New Zealand, 1900-1950’ led by Anne Salmond at Auckland University, which follows Māori leaders Apirana Ngata and Peter Buck through their involvement in the Dominion Museum ethnological expeditions, the Polynesian Society and the Board of Māori Ethnological Research. It considers the mobilising of relational concepts such as whakaapa/kinship, which were applied in Buck and Ngata’s ‘practical anthropology’, and the lessons of their experiments for both Māori museum practice today and contemporary tribal development generally.

 

Open Seminar: Museums, Digital Collections and Indigenous Futures

On 22 February the Centre is hosting an open seminar featuring two scholars who will speak about their current projects that aim to reconnect indigenous communities with objects and archives, making them available for future use and reinterpretation.

Location: Moot Court, 10th Floor, Richardson Building

All welcome.

Associate Professor Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center, New York) will discuss his involvement in producing a new critical edition of anthropologist Franz Boas’s 1897 landmark book, The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians, which uses digital media to link museums, archives and communities while recuperating ethnographic records for current and future use. Not only did the volume make draw upon existing museum collections from around the world, Boas and his indigenous collaborator, George Hunt, left a vast archive of unpublished materials relevant to the creation and afterlife of the 1897 text, including hundreds of pages of Hunt’s corrections and amendments. An international and collaborative endeavour to create a new annotated critical edition of the book – both in print and in digital formats – unites published and unpublished materials with current Kwakwaka’wakw knowledge. This presentation discusses that project and presents an interactive prototype for the digital edition that re-embeds ethnographic knowledge within Indigenous epistemological frameworks and hereditary protocols for access.

Associate Professor Conal McCarthy (Victoria University of Wellington) will outline two current trends in museum research in Australia and Aotearoa: one looking back to the history of collections, ethnology and colonisation, and the other looking forward to digital technology, co-curating and an emerging indigenous Museology. It will briefly introduce various projects which aim to reconnect tribal descendants to ancestral heritage through digital tools which enable the reassembly of scattered records, material culture and images. It will introduce the Marsden-funed project ‘Te Ao Hou: Imagining Worlds in New Zealand, 1900-1950’ led by Anne Salmond at Auckland University, which follows Māori leaders Apirana Ngata and Peter Buck through their involvement in the Dominion Museum ethnological expeditions, the Polynesian Society and the Board of Māori Ethnological Research. It considers the mobilising of relational concepts such as whakaapa/kinship, which were applied in Buck and Ngata’s ‘practical anthropology’, and the lessons of their experiments for both Māori museum practice today and contemporary tribal development generally.

Aaron Glass is an Associate Professor at Bard Graduate Center in New York City, and a Research Associate in the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History. He specializes in First Nations art, material culture, media, and performance on the Northwest Coast of North America, as well as the history of anthropology and museums. His books include The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History (co-authored with Aldona Jonaitis, 2010), Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast (the catalogue for an exhibition he curated at Bard Graduate Center in 2011), and Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema (co-edited with Brad Evans, 2014).

Conal McCarthy is Director of the Museum & Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington. He has published widely on museum history, theory and practice, including the books Exhibiting Māori (2007), Museums and Maori (2011), and Museum Practice (2015). He co-authored Collecting, ordering, governing: Anthropology, museums and government (Duke University Press, 2017), and co-edited a volume of essays in memory of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki (Victoria University Press). In 2018 he will publish the history of Te Papa (Te Papa Press), Curatopia: Museums and the future of research (co-edited with Philipp Schorch, Manchester University Press) and a book ‘Indigenous Museologies’ in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (Routledge). Among his current research projects is the history of museum visitation in Australia and New Zealand, and a Marsden funded project led by Professor Anne Salmond ‘Te Ao Hou: Transforming worlds in New Zealand 1900-1950’.

Four Waves of Feminism

If you missed last month’s Making Women Visible conference, or there were papers on the programme you wanted to see, but couldn’t, then you’re in luck! The Dowse in Lower Hutt is hosting a one-day symposium, Four Waves of Feminism, on 8 April that brings together presenters from the conference, and others, to discuss feminism in contemporary art, art history and curating. This is going to be a popular event, so make sure you register your interest in attending ASAP!

 

Annual Local History Lecture

Seán Brosnahan, curator at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, will be speaking about ‘Becoming Toitū: telling the Otago story in a museum setting’. His lecture takes place today, 10 April, at 5:30pm in Moot Court, Richardson Building, University of Otago. All welcome!

Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery

Are you fascinated by museums and material culture? Are you interested in following the exciting developments taking place at the Hawkes Bay Museum and Art Gallery? If so, we encourage you to follow the HBMAG Blog, which features articles about some of the amazing treasures held by the institution, as well as updates on the changes taking place at the museum.

Colonial Objects Conference

Registration for the Colonial Objects Conference (11-13 February 2013) is now open.  To start the process click here.

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