11 December 2019

Request for help: cultural group names

MEG have received the following request for help from Meghan Backhouse at the Pitt Rivers Museum.  Meghan writes:

As part of a wider project to change collections management systems, the Pitt Rivers Museum is working to update its Cultural Group Names information. The current list is woefully out of date, and based either on Donor or Collector’s information, or on Ethnologue language group attributions. As a result, it often contains dated, incorrect, derogatory, and/or racist terms. Not only are we hoping to create a primary list of appropriate terms, including as many autonyms as possible, but we are hoping to create a number of thesauri which can be attached to this list. This would enable searching by synonyms and alternate spellings. We would also like to be able to link smaller cultural groups to larger confederations.

As the Museum’s collections span the globe, the number of cultural groups currently stands in the thousands, and as the Museum would like to increase the list to include groups not currently, knowingly represented, I am hoping that this group might be able to help.

If you or your institution has any specialised cultural group listings for any parts of the world or countries, especially outside of North America, Australia or the Philippines, that you would be happy to share, or any advice on the best place to locate such information, that would be most welcome.

We are also hoping to make the information easy to find by the widest number of groups possible, so if you have insight or advice on how legislation (similar to NAGPRA) or local custom influences database searching, that would be much appreciated, as well.

If you are able to help or would like more information please contact Meghan directly.

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