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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15th, 2018.
For further information, please contact Rosi Crane (Rosi.Crane@otagomuseum.nz).
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.