31 October 2017

Decolonising the Museum in Practice: Remaining Relevant in the Contemporary World




Call for Papers 

Annual Museum Ethnographers Group Conference 

Pitt Rivers MuseumAshmolean Museum and St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford

12 – 13 April 2018

How do Ethnographic/World museums ensure that what they bring to society matters? Are our practices changing to ensure that what we programme, teach, collect and display is meaningful? What brings contemporary audiences to our museums and do we enable them to find inspiration, enchantment and knowledge that is of direct relevance to them? We are all grappling with the complexities of our institutional histories of collecting and representation but what does it actually mean to decolonise museum spaces and practices? We hope to address some of the following questions:

  • Can ethnographic collections be used to help in reckoning with the echoes of colonialism that still resonate in the contemporary world?
  • How do we as museum practitioners empower indigenous communities to shape a decolonised future through the interpretation of a colonised past?
  • How do Commonwealth countries fit into the discourse of decolonisation?
  • How do we resist and avoid the reproduction of colonial taxonomies in displaying ethnographic material?
  • How could such collections be interpreted in facing societal challenges such as mass human displacement, questions of identity and belonging, well-being and in addressing the wider global societal divide?
  • What alternatives has the 20th and 21st century museum landscape brought us?
  • Where do museums established during independence, and in former occupied       territories stand today?
  • Do such museums need physical collections and spaces? What do digital museums offer? 
  • Can ethnographic museums move beyond their tendency to represent cultural ‘others’ and their conventional focus on (often colonial) ‘non-Western’ geographies?
  • What would that mean for collecting in the contemporary?
  • In what way do institutional frameworks enable/limit experimentation and  innovation?

We would like to invite case studies of contemporary practice or past museum practise, including an open review of the challenges and opportunities experienced.  We warmly invite proposals for papers discussing work aimed at making museums more inclusive spaces. We hope to see both best and worst practice cases openly brought to the fore and anticipate that the meeting will give ample opportunity for people to engage, reflect and be inspired by current examples that are challenging the status quo in Ethnographic/World Museums. We especially encourage and welcome papers offered by colleagues from post-colonial studies, migration studies, new technologies, archaeology, history and cultural studies. 

Two standard formats are available for presenters: a full conference paper to last twenty minutes and a shorter ten-minute work in progress presentation. We also welcome A2 posters to be displayed throughout the conference. Please send 200 word abstracts by email to Faye Belsey no later than Monday 22nd JanuaryFull details on registration, accommodation and the conference programme will be released in February 2018. The Museum Ethnographers Group is a charity and is unable offer any financial support to speakers. All papers must be presented in English. Conference papers will be considered for inclusion in the Journal of Museum Ethnography. 

30 October 2017

Job Vacancy: Project Manager

Project Manager
Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford
Grade 7: £31,604 - £38,833 p.a.
An experienced Project Manager is required to take overall responsibility for coordinating the preparation and movement of reserve museum collections from their current location into two other locations, and for working with University Estates to complete the suitable storage facility.
The Project Manager (PM) will work with staff of the four University Museums to plan and deliver the removal of a range of museum collections from the Old Power Station (OPS), within budget and within a defined timescale. The largest collections in the OPS are cared for by the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of Science but some material cared for by the Ashmolean and the OU Museum of Natural History were also held there. Each collection has distinct requirements and the PM will need to work with museum staff (who will prepare and pack artefacts) to be sensitive to the needs of the collections for movement and re-storage and, if necessary, to manage expectations as to what the project can deliver.
This is a complex project requiring the PM to liaise closely with museum staff to facilitate and support the preparation of artefacts for the move, planning logistics required for the process, and also to represent museum requirements to University Estate Services. The PM will be first point of contact for the Museums for Estates Services which includes Security, Repairs and Maintenance, minor and capital works. He/she will be responsible for ensuring that the budgeted plan is delivered. The PM will also be responsible for health and safety and security for all the spaces involved in the project.
This is a full- time post (part- time hours will be considered), fixed-term for 12 months.
You will be required to upload a full CV and supporting statement as part of your online application.
Only applications received before 12.00 midday on 9 November 2017 can be considered.
Please note that the University of Oxford's retirement policy has changed. With effect from 1 October 2017.
Apply here
Contact Person : Dr Laura Van BroekhovenVacancy ID : 131625
Contact Phone : 01865 613013Closing Date : 09-Nov-2017
Contact Email : laura.vanbroekhoven@prm.ox.ac.uk

Job Vacancy: team leader Pitt Rivers Museum reserve collection move

Team Leader - Pitt Rivers Museum Reserve Collections Move
Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford
Grade 5: £24,983 - £29,799 p.a.
We are seeking an experienced Team Leader for a fixed period to lead a project team and coordinate the final stages of packing and relocating a significant reserve collection currently housed in a large split-level off-site warehouse facility.
This role is fixed-term until 30 June 2018
The Team Leader will be required to manage the project team and oversee the documentation, packing, transport and storage of objects in a safe manner, to standard and within the project deadline. The post will be based in a warehouse environment and requires standing, regularly using stairs, and lifting objects and packed boxes.
Full details of the post are available in the job description. The essential requirements include experience of working in a museum or equivalent heritage site; understanding, knowledge and experience of handling and packing complex and delicate organic artefacts and familiarity with the principles of museum security, museum storage of objects, museum conservation and handling of museum objects; experience of supervising, managing and motivating staff and a proven ability to work effectively and constructively as part of a team.
The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on 16 November 2017
Apply here
Contact Person : Marina de AlarconVacancy ID : 131675
Contact Phone : 01865 613002Closing Date : 16-Nov-2017
Contact Email : marina.dealarcon@prm.ox.ac.uk

28 September 2017

Call for papers: Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art

As part of the Art, Materiality and Representation conference to be hosted by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) at The British Museum and SOAS, 1st-3rd June 2018, we are pleased to invite papers for the following panel (Code P002) titled 'Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art'

Convenors: Max Carocci (Chelsea College of Art) and Stephanie Pratt (Independent Scholar and Curator)

Please provide a 250 word abstract proposal by 8th January 2018 to the following online form found on the panel page.

This panel addresses the role of artworks as ethnographic resource. Raising questions about the objectivity of images from fieldwork diaries to scientific illustration, it examines the accuracy of images as ethnographic documents and their reliability as forms of knowledge.

Papers should be around 15-20 minutes in length (with 3-5 mins for questions). The inclusion of multimedia, film, audio, or other elements as part of the presentation would be most welcomed.


Proposals should consist of a paper title, a (very) short abstract of <300 characters and an abstract of 250 words. 


Proposals will be marked as pending until the end of the Call for papers. Convenors will then be asked to make their decisions over the papers proposed to their workshop by 20 January 2018. Further details about the conference can be found here. 

Panel Long abstract:

Sketches, drawings, watercolours, and paintings have historically been used to illustrate ethnographies and fieldwork notebooks. In this panel we analyse how illustrations can be taken as potential objective forms of knowledge, and how they can inform new understandings of the ways in which anthropologists visualise evidence, or picture the realities they observe. The proposed session gives an opportunity to scrutinise the claims made for images/pictures as purveyors of data. This may reveal important facets of the processes involved in memory retrieval and the act of seeing/observing central to the anthropological method. The panel aims at examining what is the role of artistic illustrations in producing anthropological knowledge especially when no other means of visual recording are available. Highlighting the nexus between the witnessed and the rhetorical, the panel's focus is the relationship between visuality and narrative in constructing ethnography. Frequently only complementary to text-based evidence, images produced by anthropologists raise questions about their value, reliability, authority, and objectivity. Given that all images inevitably rely on conventions of representation, the quality of information in anthropological illustration is dependent on effective utilisation of the prevalent conventions by the maker and the consumer of the illustration. Studying of these conventions allows us to work with them, to assess how well anthropological information has been conveyed, but also to look beyond them at the surplus every image necessarily brings with it.

Papers should be around 15-20 minutes in length (with 3-5 mins for questions). The inclusion of multimedia, film, audio, or other elements as part of the presentation would be most welcomed.

Panel Title: Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art
Panel Short abstract:

The panel’s convenors are not only interested in papers which address art’s role in anthropological investigation in the wider sense, but also how professional anthropologists and non-professionals have undertaken to illustrate or study through visual expression World cultures in whatever visual manner this may have entailed at the time (including re-enactment and staging). They hope also to include papers which examine how non-anthropologists, artists, travel writers, curators and archivists, etc. have employed artistic and illustrative images in order to conduct their own work around the notion of anthropological illustration/demonstration. Topics which may fall under the remit of this panel might be, but are not limited to:
·      The role of the ‘expeditionary’ artists in constructing anthropological knowledges
·      Incidental illustrative imagery as found in the archive, e.g. museum accession records, diagrammatic and illustrative images used in online media, curator’s drawings, etc.
·      Auto-ethnographical image-making and the convergence of Western and non-Western artistic practices (e.g. North American Indigenous ledger art or Indian Boarding School artistic productions)
·      Modernist artists’ visual accounts of ethnographic materials and Modernist artistic interest in World cultures more broadly
·      Visual encounters in and through museums and/or exhibitions
·      Visual codes and the semiotics of representing ‘others’ cultures’
·      Amateur art with ethnographic content
·      Ethnographic sketches in field notes: their role in anthropological knowledge and artistic merit
·      Didactic illustrations with ethnographic content (e.g. textbooks, marketing, publicity, leaflets and posters)

·      Drawing elicitation as anthropological method, and the study of local visual idioms through graphic arts