2019 CMA Book Prize Awardees

The Council for Museum Anthropology is extremely pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 CMA Book Prize! Thanks to all nominators and authors who submitted books for consideration, and congratulations to the award winners.

The 2019 Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award will be awarded to Chip Colwell for his book Plundered Skulls & Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture (2017, University of Chicago Press), with honorable mention awarded to Diana Marsh for her book Extinct Monsters to Deep Time: Conflict, Compromise, and the Making of Smithsonian's Fossil Halls (2019, Berghahn).

Chip Colwell’s Plundered Skulls & Stolen Spirits is a moving examination of the work of repatriation and shines important light on the manifold ways in which museums have participated in settler-colonialism. Recounting his experiences as a curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Colwell shows what the possibilities that addressing these legacies entail, the necessity of doing so, and the ways the work of slow museology can help anthropologists and museums begin to repair the inequities of the past and present. The book is an important conversation-starter for the discipline and the public more widely about museums, collections, human remains, and ethics.

Diana Marsh’s book Extinct Monsters to Deep Time (2019) emerges out of her dissertation, which examined the development of the new dinosaur exhibit, David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The book is an important contribution to the genre of museum ethnography, and provides key methodological insights into doing research in and on museums. The book reveals the hidden labor and negotiations involved in exhibit making, chronicles the history of paleontology, and demonstrates why the work of natural history museums matters.


All CMA awards will be presented at the CMA reception on Friday 22 November at the AAA meetings in Vancouver. The reception will be at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, 639 Hornby Street. Come and celebrate!