The panel focuses on the development of experimentalism in the fields of ethnography, material culture studies and museum anthropology as an aftermath of the 'crisis of representation', by discussing case studies focused on Melanesia, Taiwan, North American Northwest Coast, Peru and Amazonia.
The predicament of representation formulated in the 1980s has triggered the development of experimentalism not only in ethnographic writings, but also in the fields of material culture studies and museum anthropology. On a methodological level, it also entailed the development of self-reflexivity and of more dialogical approaches, in which interested communities are involved in the decision-making, and also a renewed interest in indigenous material culture with a focus on their own concepts and systems of representation. This paradigmatic shift is also accompanied by a politicisation of the field, initiating a process of deconstruction of hierarchies, of redistribution of power/knowledge, and allowing for a questioning of ethics and transparency. This 'crisis of representation' was therefore key in injecting dynamism to the fields of ethnography, museum anthropology and material culture studies and opening up a multiplicity of approaches. Drawing from case studies based on Melanesia, Mexico, Taiwan, North American Northwest Coast, Peru and Amazonia, this panel will discuss the question of representation of indigenous material culture from a variety of angles including: the links between indigenous material culture with ethno-historical and cosmological narratives, the representation of indigenous peoples in museum exhibitions (and the indigenous critique thereof), the reclaiming of ancient cultural heritage and identity and the question of change of material culture in face of globalization.