Report: Women lead visual arts jobs in Canada

Canadian HR Reporter, May 14, 2019

“Women now dominate Canada's most powerful visual arts jobs, including four of the five director positions in major art galleries from Vancouver to Halifax, which experts say is having a direct impact on exhibitions, public programming and national collection building.

While gender equality has been a goal at many organizations for the last decade, an Ontario Arts Council (OAC) research review suggests women have caught up and now lead the visual arts sector across the country.”

More here.

Natives at the Museum: Repatriation and the Reconceptualization in the Museum Space

The Dartmouth, May 16, 2019

“In 2002, the Hood Museum returned a Tlingit Chilkat shirt to southeast Alaska. The shirt, which was said to have been made before the 1880s, had been in possession of Axel Rasmussen, the superintendent of schools in Wrangell, AK. After his death, it found its way into the possession of a New York City art dealer, and when it was not sold, it was donated to Dartmouth in 1959. 

In 1995, a delegation of Tlingit people came to Dartmouth, recognized the robe and was able to recount the legend about two brothers who inherited a “naaxein” (Chilkat blanket) and cut it in half to create two tunics to share. Since the object has sacred and ceremonial value as well as continued cultural relevance in the Tlingit community, it was returned under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a law which dictates that if an item can be traced to a particular group of people as the rightful keepers, it must be given back to them. This was an ideal case of repatriation under NAGPRA, but sometimes things are not so clear-cut, especially when international law gets involved.

Despite the complications, repatriation of these sorts of items is still feasible for all museums, especially when we rethink museum’s relationships to indigenous communities, objects and artists.   Late last year, five ceremonial objects that had previously been in the possession of galleries, auction houses and private collections all over the world were returned to Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. These items, at the discretion of the Acoma Pueblo people, will not be on display and have not been named in press releases because Acoma society restricts ceremonial knowledge to a select few.This is one example of why items like these need to be returned — they are sacred objects that were never meant to be outside of the Pueblo and are not mere aesthetic objects for people outside of the community.”

More here.

Reminder - CFP: Museums Different, Second Biennial Conference of the Council for Museum Anthropology

The Council for Museum Anthropology’s second biennial conference will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico from Thursday, September 19th through Saturday, September 21st, 2019. Using the unique position of Santa Fe -- the “City Different” -- as a starting point for thinking broadly about both local and global approaches to museum anthropology, the conference theme is “Museums Different.” We will build off the theme and conversations from our first conference, “Museum Anthropology Futures,” held in May 2017 at Concordia University in Montreal. 

The conference is based on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill, home to both the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology and the Museum of International Folk Art. The conference includes sessions and activities at the Institute of American Indian Arts as well as an evening reception at the School for Advanced Research. 

All proposals and funding applications are due on June 1, 2019 midnight MST.

See the CFP here.

Associate Professor in Visual, Material, and Museum Anthropology, University of Oxford School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography in association with St Peter’s College

We seek to appoint an Associate Professor of Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology from 1 October 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter. The successful candidate will work at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and will hold a non-tutorial Fellowship at St Peter’s College. The appointment will be initially for 5 years at which point, upon completion of a successful review, the postholder will be eligible for reappointment to the retiring age.
We welcome applications from academics working on any aspects of visual, material or museum anthropology. The successful applicant will have a doctorate in a relevant subject and the excellent interpersonal skills necessary for undertaking teaching high-achieving students. You will have a track record of obtaining research funding, evidence of research accomplishment and potential commensurate with the current stage of your career, and the collaboration and leadership skills necessary to manage excellent research programmes and to attract external funding.
The main duties of the post are to carry out research at an international level, to teach, supervise and examine undergraduate and postgraduate students, and to make a contribution to School administration.
The appointee will be a Research Fellow of St Peter’s College.

Praktische informatie

The application procedure is detailed within the further particulars. Applications for this vacancy are to be made online. To apply for this role and for further details, including the job description and selection criteria, please click on this link

The closing date for applications is 12.00 midday on Wednesday 15 May 2019. Interviews are scheduled to take place in Oxford on 13 June 2019.
The School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography holds a Bronze Athena SWAN award. Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in Oxford.

Activists Return to the British Museum to Lead Another “Stolen Goods” Tour

Hyperallergic, May 8, 2019

“On Saturday, May 4, activist group BP or not BP? led a second “Stolen Goods” tour of the British Museum, during which speakers called for the repatriation of objects acquired through colonialism and an end to sponsorship from the oil company BP. The tour was the 38th action organized by the performance activist group at the British Museum.

On the Facebook event, the tour’s organizers wrote: “Refusing to return colonially-stolen artefacts is bad enough, depriving cultures around the world of vital parts of their history and glossing over the violence of colonialism. But to make things even worse the British Museum is also promoting BP, an oil company that’s threatening the lands and livelihoods of many of the same communities that those looted artefacts came from.”

The unofficial tour featured talks by Palestinian, Iraqi, Greek, and Indigenous Australian activists. Around 300 people attended the tour, including those who came especially for the event and museum visitors who decided to listen in.”

More here.

A New Museum Explores 2,000 Years of Jewish Life in Italy

The New York Times, April 24, 2019

“The epigraph etched in Latin on the ancient stone tablet was short and tender: “Claudia Aster, prisoner from Jerusalem.” Brought to Rome in chains after the quelling of the revolt in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., she was apparently the concubine of a Roman notable who wanted to give her a dignified burial and added an unusual element to the funerary stone. “I pray," it said, “take care and follow the law that no one should remove the inscription.” 

That tribute is one of many revelations at the new Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah in Ferrara, and is at the heart of the museum’s first major exhibition, “Jews, an Italian Story. The First Thousand Years,” which examines the long and complex relationship between Rome and Jerusalem, Christianity and Judaism.”

More here.

Culture Pass brings library patrons to New York museums—and now, museums to libraries

The Art Newspaper, April 30, 2019

“The New York City, Queens and Brooklyn Library systems have brought thousands of visitors to New York cultural institutions through the successful Culture Pass programme, launched last July, which allows patrons to reserve a limited number of free museum tickets online using their library cards. Now, in the initiative’s second phase, which kicked off this month, museums are coming to the library branches with new public programmes.

“We’ve had a phenomenal response really, and it’s been super positive,” Anita Favretto, the associate director of adult programming at the New York Public Library, says of Culture Pass’s first phase, intended to bring visitors who might not have had as easy access as frequent museum-goers to cultural institutions.”

More here.

'Memory Boxes’ Offer Poignant Reminders of Afghan Lives Lost to Violence

The New York Times, April 17, 2019

“A brother’s sandals. A flag of Afghanistan. A daughter’s favorite toy.

These are some of the remnants of lives lost to violence.

The prosaic belongings, collected in handmade wooden containers, are displayed in the frigid basement of a house in Kabul. They are the possessions of the dead, lovingly preserved by family members of Afghans killed during the past 40 years of conflict.

An exhibition of these everyday items — from scarves and robes to teacups and poems — seeks to memorialize a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died violently since 1979 in Afghanistan, a country that rarely pauses to remember its victims.

Each so-called memory box includes a narrative composed by loved ones about the life lost, making each tragedy personal.”

More here.

Remains of Aboriginal Australians returned to their descendants by German museums

The Telegraph, April 15, 2019

“The remains of 41 Aboriginal Australians brought to Europe to be displayed in museums were returned to their descendants at a ceremony in Berlin on Monday.

The handover is the largest ever repatriation of Aboriginal remains taken from Australia during the colonial era.

Representatives of the Yawuru indigenous group from Western Australia were present at the Australian embassy in Berlin to collect the remains of seven of their ancestors from the German State Ethnographic Collections.

The ceremony comes a week after the remains of a king of the Yidindji people from northern Queensland were handed over to one of his direct descendants by the Munich Five Continents Museum.

Germany has committed itself to returning human remains from around the world held in its collections, and a total of 53 sets of Aboriginal Australian remains have been handed over in a series of ceremonies this month.”

More here.

CMA Seeks Editors for Museum Anthropology

We seek new Editors of the section's peer reviewed journal, Museum Anthropology, and invite letters of interest and nominations for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2019. 

Museum Anthropology is a leading voice for scholarly research on the collection, interpretation, and representation of the material world. Through critical articles, provocative commentaries, new publishing formats and thoughtful reviews, this peer-reviewed journal aspires to cultivate vibrant dialogues that reflect the global and transdisciplinary work of museums. Situated at the intersection of practice and theory, Museum Anthropology advances our knowledge of the ways in which material objects are intertwined with living histories of cultural display, economics, socio-politics, law, memory, ethics, colonialism, conservation, and public education. Museum Anthropology is published twice yearly by Wiley-Blackwell. It appears in print, for members of the section and for institutional subscribers, as well as on AnthroSource.

Editors also oversee the journal's blog and participate in its Annual Meetings at the AAA. Financial support for the editorial staff is negotiated each fiscal year with the CMA Board and includes some travel expenses to the AAA Meeting and other conferences, and professional copy editing services. After shadowing the current Editor and her team on the Fall 2019 issue, the new Editors will assume the final review and content editing for the Fall 2019 issue, and assume full editorial responsibility for the Spring 2020 issue. 

Editors of Museum Anthropology have a unique opportunity to shaping the section’s identity and future. Previous Editors have been encouraged to put their own stamp on the journal, and we are searching for dynamic individuals who are interested in contributing to the development of museum anthropology broadly, as well as raising the profile of our work within the AAA. Editors are not expected to have expertise in all subfields of museum anthropology but must be interested in creatively developing vital conversations within and across fields and forms of practice and engagement, as well as in contributing collaboratively to the global construction and circulation of anthropological knowledge about and within museum settings. We expect this to include engagement with critical scholarly topics and public debate, as well as with new developments in digital publishing and use of media. Above all, the CMA Board of Directors seeks Editors who will maintain the journal at the cutting edge of the field.

Previous editorial experience is not required; however, the nomination letter should provide evidence of the nominee’s or nominees’ qualifications in several critical areas. New Editors will be expected to:

  • maintain the journal’s high standards while also actively encouraging innovative scholarship in museum anthropology;

  • manage the smooth operation of processes related to manuscript submission, review, and publication – including use of relevant software; 

  • work with the CMA board regarding the journal’s budget and longer-term planning; 

  • coordinate with designated CMA officers for the journal’s online presence (web, blog, Facebook and Twitter);

  • effectively manage a small editorial staff; and 

  • work effectively with diverse constituencies, including authors and prospective authors, manuscript reviewers, the AAA Publications Office, the CMA Board, the journal's Editorial Board, and Wiley staff. 

Given the demands of the editorship, we strongly encourage applications from teams of two or three candidates. 

We would normally expect Editors to hold permanent museum or tenured academic positions. Associate or co-editors may have other professional situations. The successful candidates will be expected to negotiate institutional support with their home institution – including office space, course release, various forms of in-kind support (telephone and internet access are critical), and personnel who can serve as an editorial assistant/editorial manager (including the option of a graduate assistant). CMA also provides (limited) support for these purposes, but the editorship itself is not a paid position. The selection of Editors is not contingent on advance offers of institutional support, but the search committee encourages candidates – particularly at the finalist stage – to discuss the prospects concretely with their museum director, department chair and/or other appropriate administrators.

Please note that participation by members of underrepresented groups in the publication process is encouraged and will be welcomed. The new Editors will be expected to join CMA, if not already members.

Individuals and teams interested in applying for the position and those wishing to nominate a colleague should contact CMA Journal Committee chair David Odo at for additional information. We are also requesting a brief letter of interest that indicates your experience and ideas for the journal, and a recent curriculum vita. While this is a rolling deadline, applications for best consideration should be received by May 15, 2019.

The final choice of the next Editors will be made by the CMA Board of Directors.

Reminder: Museum Anthropology Blog Call for Contributions

We want to highlight your voices – the people in the field, doing museum anthropology every day. Starting now, we are currently welcoming commentaries on:

1.     Current events within, and outside of, museum anthropology. How has today’s current political climate(s) impacted your work? What controversies or challenges are prominent in your work right now? How have these events shaped the way you curate, research, learn, or teach?

2.     Notes from the field. Do you have any tips or advice about navigating academia, museums, institutions, or your field? We particularly encourage students at any phase in their education or career to reach out and tell us about your path in and around museum anthropology.

3.     Exhibition or book reviews. Did you recently visit a particularly interesting or insightful exhibition? Do you have a critique of a recently published book? Reach a wider audience in a timely way through our blog.

4.     Reflections on ideas from conferences, panels, or workshops. Did you recently participate in a particularly influential panel or conference? Did you attend a workshop that changed your practice or pedagogy?

5.     Spotlights on particular projects or objects. In 2014, Jennifer Shannon (2012-2014 Museum Anthropology Co-Editor, University of Colorado – Boulder) and McEnaney welcomed a post from John Millhauser (link), that analyzed the Aztec World exhibition at Chicago’s Field Museum. Millhauser focused his analysis on two influential objects, and we hope to continue this style of inquiry. These spotlights can focus on project process or results, object histories and provenances, or archival microcosms.

6.     CommentariesMuseum Anthropology regularly publishes commentaries on the field that allow for personal voices and arguments to be highlighted, and we hope to expand this practice to the blog. Do you have a thought, opinion, or comment on the state of the field that you want to address? Or, do you have a response to a commentary already published in the journal?

7.     Interviews. Shannon and McEnaney began an on-going interview series on the blog in 2014 (link), and we now hope to bring it directly into the hands of our readers. Do you have an influential advisor, mentor, or supervisor to interview whose experience would benefit our audiences?

If you have an idea that doesn’t fit into any of the above options, please let us know. We want to highlight a diversity of experiences, subfields, and perspectives. Most importantly, we want to know how museum anthropology works where you are.

Please email Lillia McEnaney with questions, proposals, or drafts. We look forward to hearing from you!