Accepted Paper:

Processing Common Ground: Exhibitions and the Greenlandic Mining Complex  

Authors:

Nathalia Brichet (University of Aarhus)
Frida Hastrup (University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, we explore collection-cum-exhibition-making as a mode of anthropological knowledge production. We argue that exhibition is not just a popularized form of dissemination rather, it is a productive practice and an opportunity to ask new questions and for discussing what world we want.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, we explore exhibition-making as a mode of anthropological knowledge production. On the basis of ongoing research in the volatile mining industry in Greenland, which includes collection of objects during fieldwork, we argue that exhibition work can be a highly complex and shared analytical endeavor. It invites both fieldwork interlocutors and museum visitors to think along and process common concerns. As such, exhibition is not just a popularized form of dissemination - a reduction of data in simpler format than the research article - rather, it is a productive practice and an opportunity to ask new questions and for discussing what world we want.

One of the ways to materialize this potential, we suggest, is by creatively probing for, using and re-working (cutting, gluing, combining…) fieldwork items and displaying them in suggestive ways that make a set propositions. This process entails several steps, including discussing with others during fieldwork about what objects to exhibit and why, creating what we think of analytical-artistic figures through anthropological analysis and practical processing of collected items, and displaying these in sufficiently undogmatic ways so as to invite exhibition visitors to be intrigued and reflect. In our work, often touching upon environmentally problematic issues, such reflection is key.

In the talk, we will exemplify some of these moves in order to argue that fieldwork and collecting practices alike are truly generative activities where subjects and objects come into being through encounters, whereby all involved may be moved and transformed.

Panel P046
Exhibiting Anthropology beyond Museum Collections