The Anthropology Museum in the Post-Colonial Era
A Case Study on How Indigenous, First Nations communities are represented at the UBC Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.
This research aims at answering the question of how indigenous, First Nation communities from the Pacific Northwest Coast are represented at the Museum of Anthropology (MoA) in Vancouver. Following the debate around Anthropology museums in the Post-Colonial Era, this research examines how the museum of Anthropology in Vancouver engages in new museological practices. The qualitative methods of analysis consisted of a Visual discourse analysis of the display as well as a thematic analysis of interviews conducted with staff members of the Museum involved in curation. The exhibition was recorded and coded through photographs, while the interviews were coded in the software Atlas.ti. The emerging topics were then examined and compared. Both sources of data were examined under the categories of Alexanders Social Performance theory, that looks at museums as a social performance with the components of the actor, audience, social context, collective representations, means of symbolic production and cultural script. The analysis found that the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver engages into practices such as critical museology and implements discourses of cultural fluidity trying to create a discourse of Indianness and indigeneity as a culture that cannot be separated into historical categories like precontact, post-contact and recovery period with the end of colonialism (Oliver, 2010). By mixing contemporary art and artifacts the museum creates another discourse of indigenous heritage as art by aestheticizing the material through the mise-en-scène. Furthermore, Moa implements recommendations such as the UNDRIP (2008) and The Taskforce agreement between indigenous communities and Canadian museums, to ensure that indigenous communities are part of presenting their own culture. With that come respectful discourse, a discourse of acknowledgment, collaboration, consultation and community work that build the basis for a multi-perspective approach that includes different traditions. One discourse that was visible was the avoidance of engaging in decolonization practices by reflecting on historical trauma. The Museum prefers to engage in a conversation without sides and confrontation. It also still holds a discourse of academic expertise and authority. The interviews showed furthermore that personal relationships with indigenous nations build the foundation for MoAs position as being a progressive institution in the department of museology and Anthropology.
|Keywords||kunstwetenschappen, cultuurwetenschappen, Indigenous representation, Visual Discourse Analysis, Anthropology, Post-Colonialism, Critical museology, Social Performance Theory|
|Thesis Advisor||D. Hoebink|
|Series||Master Arts, Culture & Society|
A. Nikitin. (2019, August 25). The Anthropology Museum in the Post-Colonial Era. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/49287