27 August 2014

Call for papers - Re-thinking Sami cultures in museums

University of Oslo, 26, 27, 28 November 2014

In the last few years, the politics of collection, representation and curation of Sami heritage in museums have received increased attention and are now engendering new opportunities and challenges for both museum theory and practice.

A conference titled "Rethinking Sami cultures in museums" is to be held at the Centre for Museums Studies at IKOS, University of Oslo. The conference is a collaboration between the Centre for Museum Studies at the University of Oslo, the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm and the University of Tromsø. We invite scholars and museum practitioners from different countries, disciplines and institutions to share experiences and research findings that illuminate aspects of Sami cultures in museums, both in an historical and contemporary perspective. Paper topics may include (but are not limited to):

Collecting Sami: rationale and modalities of collection

  • in the past and present
  • the challenges of collecting material and immaterial Sami heritage 

Exhibiting Sami: narratives and the politics of display

  • in Sami Museums
  • in national/majority museums, as well as in regional museums
  • historically
  • contemporary representations, issues and exhibition experiments 
  • the structure of the museum system (e.g. in which museums are Sami exhibited? What is the rationale of such distribution?)

Curating Sami: new approaches to curation and conservation of Sami heritage 

  • Sami 'traditional knowledge', Sami concepts, and world views: relevance and challenges for museum theory and practice 
  • Repatriation: perspectives on the process of return collections from national museums to local Sami museums or communities 

Cross-cutting topics

  • ethnical dimensions of collections, exhibiting and curating Sami heritage 
  • uses and implications of the adoption of indigenous methodologies (including indigenous concepts, practices, values and world views)

We particularly welcome papers that adopt a comparative perspective across Nordic countries, in order to bring to the fore similarities and differences in the way Sami heritage is presented in contemporary museums as a result of diverse:

  • forms of experiences and consequences of the colonial past;
  • roles of Sami in the process of nation-building;
  • relationships among Sami sub-groups, between Sami and the national government, and between Sami and other groups (ethnic minorities, immigrants, others);
  • gender perspectives

Please send a 250 word abstract and a short biography to Marzia Varutti and Silje Opdahl Mathisen by September 8th, 2014. Abstracts will be accepted by the conference organisers. Accepted contributors will be informed by early autumn. Conference fees: participants will have to take charge of travel and accommodation expenses. We are seeking funding to keep conference fees at a minimum. Detailed information about this will follow.

Keynote speakers
Prof. Christina Kreps, Museum of Anthropology, University of Denver,Colorado
Prof. Gunlög Fur, Linnaeus University, Sweden
Prof. Stein R. Mathisen, Tromsø University, Norway
Dr Birgitta Fossum, Director, Saemien Sijte / South Sami Museum and Cultural Centre, Norway
Mr Henrik Olsen, vice-president of the Norwegian Sámi Parliament

Publication plans
Papers presented at the conference will be included in the conference proceedings, which will be published online. In addition, selected papers will be published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Nordic Museology.

Conference organizers
Silje Opdahl Mathisen, Marzia Varutti - Department of Culture and Oriental Studies (IKOS), University of Oslo; Rossella Ragazzi - University of Tromsø; Eva Silven, Nordiska Museet, Stockholm.

26 August 2014

Call for papers - Musical instruments and Material Culture

While musical instruments are the primary medium for transmitting the intangible culture of music they also grounded in material culture.  They require specialist techniques and skills of manufacture that have been subject to adaptation, as supplies of hardwoods and other materials of which instruments were traditionally made become depleted and the potential of new materials is explored and exploited.  Musical instruments reflect cultural values ranging from current fashion to belief systems.  Although those who document musical instruments aspire to capture wide a range of information relating to the material and intangible culture of instruments, their symbolism, magical power, status, and the rituals involved in the manufacture of instruments remain to be quantified.

This one-day conference will explore the ways in which musical instruments reflect the embodied cultural values of those who produce them, play them and hear their music.  Papers are sought with a focus on the following:

  • Cultural values, collectivised memories and environmental concerns as manifest in the performance, production, recycling, abandonment or destruction of musical instruments 
  • Musical instruments and status - the status of gender, social hierarchy
  • Musical instruments and meaning
  • Determinants of diffusion in musical instrument and their sounds 
  • Epistemological aspects of the documentation of musical instruments by museums
  • The instrument as material culture during the processes of learning and passing on musical skills 

-       The conference will take place in the Pavilion of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, and will be held in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute. The Horniman Museum’s Music Gallery displays a collection of around 1,600 musical instruments from many different countries, and has a room full of instruments for visitors to play.   

Papers will be of 20 minutes duration, with 10 minutes for questions.  Abstracts of not more than 500 words for papers should be sent to: MusicalInstrumentsConference@horniman.ac.uk

The deadline for abstracts is 15th November 2014. All those submitting proposals will be notified of the outcome by 3rd December 2014.

Call for seminar papers - The Travellers’ Tails Seminars: Exploration

The National Maritime Museum are hosting a series of seminars in autumn 2014 on the theme of exploration to investigate the histories, practices and interpretation of art, science and exploration from the Enlightenment to the present day. The series forms part of the Travellers’ Tails project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund.

9 October 2014: Lost in Translation
How are the experiences and the material culture of exploration translated for those back at ‘home’?

How have new places and frameworks of knowledge been introduced to Western societies?
20 November 2014: Finding voices and re-shaping
How might established narratives of exploration be accommodated within modern interpretations?

To what extent and with what effect did indigenous peoples contribute to the making and dissemination of European knowledge?
4 December 2014: Empire and the museum
How and with what effects is Empire represented in museums?

How can historical and contemporary exploration be documented and displayed to ensure other voices are included?
29 January 2015: Arts and science: an enlightened approach
How does bringing together the arts and sciences add to the interpretation of exploration?

Where were the cross-overs between the arts and sciences historically, how are they viewed today and why?
Proposals of no longer than 250 words, for presentations of 20 minutes, should be sent to research@rmg.co.uk by no later than Friday, 5 September 2014. We welcome submissions for papers and less-formal presentations from academics, curators, artists and other specialists in the fields. Proposals from postgraduate students and early career scholars are encouraged.

Boundary Objects - ECR support network

Boundary Objects was founded in the summer of 2013 by a group of recent PhD graduates. Life outside of the Ivory Tower can be difficult: publishing research, finding work, staying in the academic ‘loop’. We decided that we A support group can make all of these challenges easier. Boundary Objects is an international network for early career researchers working with museums and collections, run by and for its members. It is free of any institutional affiliation, allowing it to operate purely in the interests of its members.

Boundary Objects support members in three key ways:

By facilitating research and collaboration by providing opportunities online and in person, for  members to meet, share ideas and develop new projects together;
by campaigning for the interests of early career researchers;
       by offering informal guidance, mentoring, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on when academic life gets tough.  

There are many ways to get involved in Boundary Projects through joining in discussions on twitter @BoundaryObjects and through the blog which will be launched in the coming months.

Good News Story about the return of Maori cultural property

 Motunui panels copyright Friends of Te Papa

Museum Ethnographers Group member Professor Steven Hooper, has played an important role in the recent return of the Motunui panels, considered a masterpiece of Maori Art to Te Papa, New Zealand. To read more on the story visit the Friends of Te Papa website. 

Missionaries, Materials and the Making of the Modern World

15th September – 17th September 2014 Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Registration Deadline: 31 August 2014

While some scholars have understood the activity of overseas Christian missionaries primarily in terms of a ‘Colonization of Consciousness’ (Comaroff & Comaroff 1992), a range of recent scholarship has also emphasised the profoundly material dimensions of much missionary activity. While religious conversion was never unimportant historically, many missionaries have been equally heavily involved in practical projects to remake the world. Their global projects have transformed landscapes, forms of architecture and modes of dress, but have also shaped underlying narratives of modernity and modernisation (Keane 2007).

This flagship international conference will bring scholars from different disciplines together with heritage professionals to explore the global networks of exchange established by Christian missionary organisations, the materials that circulated through these, and the transformational effects these exchanges had in many different parts of the world, including Europe itself.