CFP: Crossing Exhibition Borders

Proposed Panel: Crossing Exhibition Borders: Telling Museum Stories in Unmuseum Places

111th Annual Meeting (Borders and Crossings), November 14–18, 2012
San Francisco, CA, USA
Organizers: John Bodinger de Uriarte (Susquehanna University); Melissa Biggs (Independent Scholar)

We seek potential contributors to a panel examining museological practices outside of traditional museum display spaces.

Crossing Exhibition Borders: Telling Museum Stories in Unmuseum Places

A tribal office between the American Girl mega store and the SpongeBob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge. A giant polyurethane interpretation of Alan Houser's Sacred Rain Arrow in a casino thoroughfare. A stuffed buffalo looking out onto an array of high-stakes slot machines. An exhibition devoted to cheats and card sharps in the lobby of a Western casino resort. Each of these vignettes potentially frames a juxtaposition of the vernacular—shopping malls, casinos, and resort hotel lobbies, for example—and designed exhibitions that border on, or fully exemplify, the museological. And these are the potential ironies and border-crossings that invite rethinking conventional museum spaces and practices.

With this in mind, our panel poses the following question: how can museological practices vex the rubrics of curatorship and exhibition in spaces both formal and vernacular? This panel recognizes exhibition space as permeable and able to present multiple interior and exterior possibilities for making sense—or different kinds of sense—in the gaps and fissures that exceed formal museum space. It asks: how are the borders of such exhibition spaces blurred or crossed in the practices of self-representation? Cultivating such spaces permits the reworking of conventional curatorial and viewer boundaries, from the contemplative to the distractive, valuing the possibilities suggested by decentered reception, and provoking new ways to imagine exhibitions and their multiple publics. We invite proposals that examine these arenas from a variety of ethnographic practices and perspectives, including museum practice and visitor focused studies.

Call for Proposals Deadline: March 12, 2012

The submission must include the presentation title, abstract (of no more than 250 words), keywords, and co-authors (if applicable). Presenters must be current AAA members unless eligible for a membership exemption (anthropologists living outside of the US/Canada or non-anthropologists) and have paid registration for the 2012 Annual Meeting by 5:00pm EDT, Sunday, April 15, 2012.

Please send abstracts to John Bodinger de Uriarte ( or Melissa Biggs (