P050
Re-thinking Source Communities: Plural, Urban Indigenous Communities and Cosmopolitan Objects
Convenors:
Cara Krmpotich (University of Toronto)
Maureen Matthews (Manitoba Museum)
Format:
Panels
Location:
British Museum - BP Lecture Theatre
Start time:
2 June, 2018 at 14:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

These papers look at the possibilities of a new world of museum practice where source communities cannot be conveniently rounded up into a bounded, culturally distinct community and where museum objects are not nearly as fixed/stable/singular as our classifications systems would have us believe.

Long abstract:

Museums were once committed to the idea of bounded indigenous cultures and ordered their artifact collections like cultural specimens to instantiate exclusive indigenous identities with artifacts which bore witness to these identities. In spite of the fact that museum staff no longer expect these categories to bear any relation to their contemporary practice, the institutions still retain taxonomic classificatory regimes in storage structure and data base systems which suggest a reliance on this imposed cultural colonialism. These papers look at the new world of museum practice where source communities cannot be conveniently rounded up into a community and where indigenous urbanity opens up all kinds of new forms of cultural authority. It is this urban group who are framing the current debates about authenticity in writing and cultural expression and their views will have an impact on any museum interested in reflecting their legitimate concerns. In this world museum objects reflect this plural identity and are not nearly as fixed/stable/singular as our classification systems would have us believe. Indigenous learning methodologies, especially "deep hanging out" with artifacts, painstaking artistic reproductions and intensive interrogation of collections facilitate discussions of personal and community identity which are matched by the biographical complexity and dynamic presence of artifacts as active social entities with complex communities of their own in the past and in the present.