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Cultural Revival, Tourism, and the Recrafting of History in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, commoditization and revitalization of culture and the arts do not necessarily work against each other; both revolve around value formation and the authentication of things. This book investigates the meaning and value of (art) objects as commodities in differing states of transit and transition: in the local place, on the market, in the museum. It provides an ethnographic account of commoditization in a context of revitalization of culture and the arts in Vanuatu, and the issues this generates, such as authentication of actions and things, indigenized copyright, and kastom disputes over ownership and the nature of kastom itself.
Borders of Belonging
Experiencing History, War and Nation at a Danish Heritage Site
In an era cross-cut with various agendas and expressions of national belonging and global awareness, “the nation” as a collective reference point and experienced entity stands at the center of complex identity struggles. This book explores how such struggles unfold in practice at a highly symbolic battlefield site in the Danish/German borderland. Comprised of an ethnography of two profoundly different institutions – a conventional museum and an experience-based heritage center – it analyses the ways in which staff and visitors interfere with, relate to, and literally “make sense” of the war heritage and its national connotations. Borders of Belonging offers a comparative, in-depth analysis of the practices and negotiations through which history is made and manifested at two houses devoted to the interpretation of one event: the decisive battle of the 1864 war in which Otto von Bismarck, on his way to uniting the new German Empire, led the Prussian army to victory over the Danish. Working through his empirical material to engage with and challenge established theoretical positions in the study of museums, modernity, and tourism, Mads Daugbjerg demonstrates that national belonging is still a key cultural concern, even as it asserts itself in novel, muted, and increasingly experiential ways.
Subjects: Museum Studies Travel & Tourism General History
Area: Northern Europe
Making and Unmaking Heritage in Cyprus
On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, rural villages, traditional artefacts, even atmospheres and experiences are considered heritage. Heritage making not only protects, but also produces, things, people, and places. Since the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, heritage making and Europeanization are increasingly intertwined in Greek-Cypriot society. Against the backdrop of a long-term ethnographic engagement, the author argues that heritage emerges as an increasingly standardized economic resource, a “European product.” Implemented in historic preservation, rural tourism, culinary traditions, nature protection, and urban restoration projects, heritage policy has become infused with transnational market regulations and neoliberal property regimes.
Subjects: General Anthropology Museum Studies
Area: Southern Europe
Extinct Monsters to Deep Time
Conflict, Compromise, and the Making of Smithsonian's Fossil Halls
Marsh, D. E.
Extinct Monsters to Deep Time is an ethnography that documents the growing friction between the research and outreach functions of the museum in the 21st century. Marsh describes participant observation and historical research at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History as it prepared for its largest-ever exhibit renovation, Deep Time. As a museum ethnography, the book provides a grounded perspective on the inner-workings of the world’s largest natural history museum and the social processes of communicating science to the public.
Subjects: Museum Studies General Anthropology
From Storeroom to Stage
Romanian Attire and the Politics of Folklore
Departing from an ethnographic collection in London, From Storeroom to Stage traces the journey of its artefacts back to the Romanian villages where they were made 70 years ago, and to other places where similar objects are still in use. The book explores the role that material culture plays in the production of value and meaning by examining how folk objects are mobilized in national ideologies, transmissions of personal and family memory, museological discourses, and artistic acts.
Subjects: General Anthropology Museum Studies
Area: Central/Eastern Europe
Having and Belonging
Homes and Museums in Israel
The home and the museum are typically understood as divergent, even oppositional, social realms: whereas one evokes privacy and familial intimacy, the other is conceived of as a public institution oriented around various forms of civic identity. This meticulous, insightful book draws striking connections between both spheres, which play similar roles by housing objects and generating social narratives. Through fascinating explorations of the museums and domestic spaces of eight representative Israeli communities—Chabad, Moroccan, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Russian, Religious-Zionist, Christian Arab, and Muslim Arab—it gives a powerful account of museums’ role in state formation, proposing a new approach to collecting and categorizing particularly well-suited to societies in conflict.
Area: Middle East & Israel
The Museum of Mankind
Man and Boy in the British Museum Ethnography Department
The Museum of Mankind was an innovative and popular showcase for minority cultures from around the non-Western world from 1970 to 1997. This memoir is a critical appreciation of its achievements in the various roles of a national museum, of the personalities of its staff and of the issues raised in the representation of exotic cultures. Issues of changing museum theory and practice are raised in a detailed case-study that also focuses on the social life of the museum community. This is the first history of a remarkable museum and a memorable interlude in the long history of one of the world’s oldest and greatest museums. Although not presented as an academic study, it should be useful for museum and cultural studies as a well as a wider readership interested in the British Museum.
Area: Northern Europe
Museum Websites and Social Media
Issues of Participation, Sustainability, Trust and Diversity
Sánchez Laws, A. L.
Online activities present a unique challenge for museums as they harness the potential of digital technology for sustainable development, trust building, and representations of diversity. This volume offers a holistic picture of museum online activities that can serve as a starting point for cross-disciplinary discussion. It is a resource for museum staff, students, designers, and researchers working at the intersection of cultural institutions and digital technologies. The aim is to provide insight into the issues behind designing and implementing web pages and social media to serve the broadest range of museum stakeholders.
Subjects: Museum Studies Media Studies
Sense and Essence
Heritage and the Cultural Production of the Real
Meyer, B. & van de Port, M. (eds)
Contrary to popular perceptions, cultural heritage is not given, but constantly in the making: a construction subject to dynamic processes of (re)inventing culture within particular social formations and bound to particular forms of mediation. Yet the appeal of cultural heritage often rests on its denial of being a fabrication, its promise to provide an essential ground to social-cultural identities. Taking this paradoxical feature as a point of departure, and anchoring the discussion to two heuristic concepts—the "politics of authentication" and "aesthetics of persuasion"—the chapters herein explore how this tension is central to the dynamics of heritage formation worldwide.
World Heritage on the Ground
Brumann, C. & Berliner, D. (eds)
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 set the contemporary standard for cultural and natural conservation. Today, a place on the World Heritage List is much sought after for tourism promotion, development funding, and national prestige. Presenting case studies from across the globe, particularly from Africa and Asia, anthropologists with situated expertise in specific World Heritage sites explore the consequences of the World Heritage framework and the global spread of the UNESCO heritage regime. This book shows how local and national circumstances interact with the global institutional framework in complex and unexpected ways. Often, the communities around World Heritage sites are constrained by these heritage regimes rather than empowered by them.