Museum Anthropology's New Editorial Team

Lea S. McChesney assumed the editorship of Museum Anthropology on July 1, 2016. She joined the Maxwell Museum as Curator of Ethnology in September 2014. A cultural anthropologist working in the US Southwest, her research focuses on representation, material and expressive culture and the legacy of museum collections to ongoing cultural heritage through collaborative ethnography. At the University of New Mexico (UNM) she is an adjunct assistant professor in the Museum Studies Program and in the Department of Anthropology. McChesney is also a Research Associate of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum and a core member of the collaborative Hopi Pottery Oral History Project with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Recovering Voices Program and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. She recently published “From Entangled Objects to Engaged Subjects: Knowledge Translation and Cultural Heritage Regeneration,” in Museum as Process: Translating Local and Global Knowledges (Routledge 2014), and collaborated with Hopi artist Karen Charley on “From a Potter’s Perspective: Hopi Pottery and the World Market,” in Artisans and Advocacy in the Global Market: Walking the Heart Path (School for Advanced Research Press 2015).

Lea S. McChesney (left) and Laura W. Steele (right). Photo courtesy Blaire Topash-Caldwell

Besides her diverse publications, McChesney has contributed to multiple museum exhibitions and taught at several universities before coming to the Maxwell Museum. Her museum background includes experience in museums of varying disciplinary focus dating to her undergraduate years and initial internships. She has held staff, curatorial, research and administrative positions in both university and community museums, and served as a curatorial consultant as well as a consultant in comprehensive program review for funding agencies. She routinely integrates museum resources into courses she teaches in the anthropology of art, the anthropology of heritage and Native American topics.

Housed in the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Museum Anthropology enjoys support from the Museum and the Department of Anthropology. McChesney is joined by editorial assistant Laura W. Steele, an advanced graduate student in Archaeology at the University of New Mexico and recipient of a Hibben Fellowship. Steele’s most recent research involved analyzing faunal remains from Sapa’owingeh, a Pueblo IV site. Other interests include identifying subsistence shifts during the protohistoric time period, the emergence of new cultural identities and combining archaeological with ethnohistoric and ethnographic research. Previously, Steele worked with legacy collections from the Hibben Center for Archaeology Research and was an assistant at Blackwater Draw Locality 1 in eastern New Mexico. She is enthusiastic about this opportunity to enhance her graduate training and professional career.

For McChesney, her editorship, editorial team and the hosting of Museum Anthropology at UNM are coming at an opportune moment in the professionalization of museum anthropology as a specialization within anthropology. She notes a coalescing concern for museum-related issues of cultural heritage, community collaboration and the reevaluation of collections for contemporary theory and practice in ethnology as well as in archaeology, with a dynamism especially around critical concerns involving indigenous peoples. Anthropology now enjoys the leadership of a museum anthropologist as President-Elect in its parent organization, the American Anthropological Association, and there is a growing interest in the visibility of museum practice by sister organizations such as the Society for Applied Anthropology. UNM students in the Department of Anthropology and the interdisciplinary Museum Studies Program directly benefit from having the journal housed here. We are excited about the future possibilities for museum anthropology both through this emerging collaboration at UNM and within our discipline overall.

First published in Anthropology News on 09/14/2016.