10 May 2018

Job Vacancy: Curator of World Cultures, National Trust

As our national specialist in the curation of world cultures and collections you will lead on the Trust’s response to specific world collections projects. You will also lead on the development of organisational policies and processes relating to the management and interpretation of world collections. Keeping abreast of the latest developments, guiding research and developing best practice, policies and processes relating to world collections, you will use your expertise to provide advice to clients at properties in the Consultancy and Whole Trust. You will lead the Trust’s responses to repatriation requests and contested collections, engaging a wide range of stakeholders through a collaborative process that will ultimately lead to informed, sensitive and appropriate decision-making. You will assist staff across the Trust in identifying innovative ways in which our diverse global collections can inspire visitors and become accessible to all. You will also seek opportunities to demonstrate the Trust’s work in this field, and support its broader strategy to ‘move, teach and inspire’.
PLEASE NOTE: The role will be based from our London or Surrey Hub and will require regular travel to our Head Office in Swindon.
£47,500 pa
Closing Date: 13th May 2018
Interview Date: 7th June 2018 (London)

Call for papers: European Society for Oceanists 2018 Conference

Economists such as Thomas Piketty have influentially argued that inequality has been globally exacerbated in recent decades, and has broad and negative impacts on the environment, human society, governance and well-being. Inspired by Marilyn Strathern’s 1987 edited collection, Dealing with Inequality, and the tradition of ethnographic conceptualisation, contextualisation and critique that that volume exemplified, this conference will address culture, society and history across Oceania, from the vantage point of anthropology’s longstanding commitment to engaging local perspectives and sensitivity to Oceania’s heterogeneity.
The theme of the 12th conference of the European Society for Oceanists encourages participants to discuss these questions by examining concrete empirical realities in the Pacific; by foregrounding local perspectives; and by foregrounding the sheer heterogeneity of culture and society in the Pacific, in diasporic milieux including those across island 'homes'. As at the 11th conference, the convenors encourage contributions ranging beyond Oceania's literal regional limits, to include Pacific presences and interventions in other contexts and regions through diplomacy, travel, migration, tourism, trade, art, museums and performance. 
The conference coincides with the 'Oceania' exhibition at the Royal Academy, the largest exhibition to date responding to art, history and contemporary identity across the region as a whole. The convenors invite artistic interventions that will contribute to a wider dialogue between academia and contemporary practice, and also cross-disciplinary contributions which may range across anthropology, archaeology, art history, development studies, political studies, geography, history, linguistics, and related fields.
Details on sessions and paper submissions can be found here. The deadline for submission is June 29th 2018

9 April 2018

Exhibition: Looted Art? The Benin Bronzes

Exhibition Photograph: Michaela Hille

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG), Germany                          
February 16th 2018
With three bronzes from Benin, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is opening another chapter of its exhibition series Looted Art? Provenance Research on the Collections of the MKG, an integral part of the visitor’s tour of the museum. MKG has researched the origin story of these three Benin bronzes and also examined the role played by the museum’s founding director, Justus Brinckmann  in trading in such objects. The research results will be published. The bronzes are not considered works of art according to the European understanding of the term. In the culture of their home country, the Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria, the objects function to help lend people an identity. This circumstance demands that they be presented in an appropriate setting, which the MKG is not able to do in the context of its collections. After their exhibition at MKG, the bronzes will therefore be passed on to the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg. This museum provides with its African collection and its objects from the Benin culture a fitting context for a respectful treatment of these works.

Today there is no question anymore that these bronzes constitute looted art. In early 1897, a British delegation set out for Benin City to demand compliance with a trade agreement. A warning that this was an unfavorable time for a visit due to the Benin cultural rites being celebrated during that season fell on deaf ears. The delegation became embroiled in a skirmish and only a few members survived. In response, the British government launched a “punitive expedition.” The troops took Benin City in February 1897. In the royal palace, they seized bronze reliefs, shrines with bronze objects, and ivory, trading the items locally or bringing them back to London. Justus Brinckmann was the first German museum director to obtain bronzes from Benin and encouraged other museums to follow suit, sparking a brisk trade in these objects via Hamburg. In the port city with its trading companies based in Africa, Brinckmann enjoyed a prime location and acted as an intermediary. Of some 50 bronzes that passed through his hands, only three pieces remained at MKG. The largest contingent became part of the collection of the Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg, and other objects were resold. With the proceeds from these sales, Brinckmann funded the acquisition by MKG of the Relief Panel with Three Dignitaries (1575–1600) and the Relief Panel with a Battle Scene (1600–1625). Museum benefactor Theodor Heye financed the purchase of the Head of an Oba (1600–1625).

5 April 2018

SWICH Conference: Exhibiting Cultures, Exhibiting Empire, Exhibiting Europe

11th July 2018 – 13th July 2018

King's College, University of Cambridge

We inhabit a time not only of global warming but increasing political heat. Across Europe, battles over citizenship, belonging and culture are intensifying. Ethnographic and world cultures museums are in a contradictory situation. On one hand, they are seen as bearers of appropriated heritage and unresolved colonial legacies. On the other hand, such museums are supported because they already connect, or have the potential to connect, diverse postmigrant communities.

This conference builds on the five-year Creative Europe project, Sharing a World of Inclusion, Creativity and Heritage. SWICH has connected museums of ethnography and world cultures across ten countries. A network embracing museum curators and other staff, researchers, artists, activists and community representatives has reflected on what ethnographic museums do and can do, in increasingly conflicted European societies. They have considered in what senses museums can decolonise. Hosted by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, the conference aims to take these issues from the realm of critique and reflection into that of action.

Presentations and panel discussions will explore recent examples of how museums of world culture are tackling legacies of empire and colonialism and issues of belonging in this landscape of intense debate. Case studies and perspectives from across Europe and beyond, and from across the spectrum of museum practice, including public engagement, exhibition, and collections management, will raise challenges for institutions and stakeholders, and debate ways forward.
Speakers include:
Booking closes on the 20th June 2018. For full details and to book online visit here

15 March 2018

Upcoming Exhibition: Points of View. Visions of a Museum Partnership

University of Zurich
13 March - 28 October 2018
Ethnographic museums find themselves in a period of change, trying to devise new ways of representing different cultures. Furthermore, they need to account for their own history, because many objects in their collections – as well as their museum practices themselves – bear traces of the colonial past. In the process, cooperation between ethnographic museums in the Global North and museums, including other stakeholders, in countries of the South has become increasingly important.
Since 2015 three museums, the Uganda National Museum in Kampala, the Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara, southwest Uganda, and the Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich, have undertaken an unusual collaboration: They engage in joint research in Uganda and Switzerland, and in co-creating exhibitions in dialogue.
The subject of this exhibition is the innovative partnership project itself. It addresses the challenges of collaborating at an equal level in a transcontinental project, asking what can, what should, this look like today? You can expect to gain insights into an exciting shift of perspective in museum work. In addition, you get the chance to visit the exhibitions in the Ugandan museums, about milk culture in Uganda and Switzerland digitally. A film about the project links multiple points of views together and documents visions of museum partnership.


12 March 2018

  Re‐imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary


October 9‐12 2018
CALL FOR PAPERS 
ICOM ICME invites proposals for contributions to our 2018 annual conference, "Re‐ imagining the Museum in the Global Contemporary.” We invite you to join us in Estonia to reflect upon the complex context(s) in which museums exist today, and to creatively examine the range of new and future roles we might productively employ in our respective and interconnected institutions. 
ICME is the international committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) devoted to ethnographic museums and collections from local, national, and/or global cultures and societies. Our annual conference brings together diverse museum scholars and practitioners from across the world. 
It has now been fifteen years since Andrea Witcomb published Re‐imagining the Museum, but her text remains relevant today. Museums are situated in a world of rapidly changing global politics, contested digital technologies, and increasing socio‐economic inequalities. Within this ‘global contemporary,’ we recognize that various ideologies and ethical perspectives greatly influence and impact our work, in regard to understanding collections, designing exhibitions, and various other aspects of museum work. 
As contemporary museum professionals, we may be asked to perform a range of roles that take us out of our traditional comfort zones, as we seek collaborative action across boundaries including: nation, ethnic identity, class, disability, gender and sexual preference. Museums have often ventured into difficult discussions and the engagement of diverse audiences. We might prioritise storytelling and sharing curatorial power so that myriad stories can be told in exhibition spaces, programmes and outreach to attract more diverse audiences. At the same time, such work can be seen as radical change threatening collections care, research and the place of the object in ‘new’ museums devoted to opening dialogue
With our conference, we present the question: Are these various positions mutually exclusive? We offer a space to consider that a ‘both and’ rather than an ‘either/or’ perspective may be possible, moving us beyond binary positions that put ‘progress’ and ‘tradition’ in unhealthy tension.  
We call for papers, panels and workshops (academic, practice‐based or any combination of the two) from colleagues who work on collections, exhibitions, and programming that aims to diversify audiences and reconsider interpretive practice, as well as from colleagues who wish to maintain, implement, and respect the legacies of more traditional practices. Together we hope to find new ways to express who we are to one another and those that visit museums, the actions we might take in the future, and the contributions we might make to the contemporary world of museology. 
We are interested in work that addresses a range of questions that have long concerned ICME, which include but are certainly not limited to: 
How does/can the museum problematize and/or diversify knowledge production?
How do technology and multisensory activities raise/elevate (or curtail) new voices and participatory
venues?
How can knowledge and power be productively shared in museums?
How have we questioned both ‘elite’ orthodoxies and new interpretive theories in productive ways? 

The conference is hosted by Estonian National Museum, in Tartu, Estonia 
Submitting an abstract
We ask that papers (15 minutes) or panel discussion proposals would not exceed 400 words. In addition we also welcome proposals for shorter papers (10 minutes) about current work in the ethnographic museum on the main theme.
The following information should be included with the abstract:
Name(s) of Author(s) Affiliation(s) & full address(es) Title of submitted paper Support equipment required
All submissions must include a 100‐word bio for each presenter. Please send proposals as soon as possible, but no later than 20.04.2018 as a Word Document attachment via email email 
The abstracts will be evaluated by at least two members of the Conference Committee.
Conference Committee:
Dr. Viv Golding (UK), ICOM ICME Chair / University of Leicester, Museum Studies
Dr. Ulf Dahre (Sweden), ICOM ICME Treasurer / Lund University, Social Anthropology
Dr. Pille Runnel (Estonia) / Estonian National Museum, Research Director 
Sylvia Wackernagel (Germany), ICOM ICME Secretary / Silesian Museum 
Mario Buletić (Croatia), ICOM ICME Webmaster / Ethnographic Museum of Istria
Brittany Lauren Wheeler (USA), ICOM ICME Conferences / PhD candidate, Clark University, Boston 
Agnes Aljas (Estonia), ICOM ICME Board member / Estonian National Museum, Research Secretary