Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives (review)

Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives (review) Book Reviews 213 Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives. Edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. 374 pages, $35.00. Reviewed by Kym S. Rice George Washington University, Washington, DC In his influential 1997 essay "Museums as Contact Zones," anthropologist James Clifford raised troubling questions about the unequal power relationships that existed between majority (read, white-run) museums and Native Americans inspired by an encounter he witnessed between tribal elders and staff at the Portland Art Museum. Among other things, Clifford argued for museums to adopt new strategies of representation that would accord greater recognition and respect to the meaning of sacred objects, as conveyed through living indigenous memory and perspective. Published more than a decade later, based on conference papers originally presented at the Newberry Library's D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History, Contesting Knowledge features essays by scholars who study indigenous museums and material culture. The very readable volume, edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith of Michigan State University, speaks to the transformations as well as the complications that have occurred in the field since Clifford's piece originally appeared--precipitated, in part, by the continuing expansion of tribal museums, some with elaborate exhibition programs fueled by casino development. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Western American Literature The Western Literature Association

Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives (review)

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Abstract

Book Reviews 213 Contesting Knowledge: Museums and Indigenous Perspectives. Edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. 374 pages, $35.00. Reviewed by Kym S. Rice George Washington University, Washington, DC In his influential 1997 essay "Museums as Contact Zones," anthropologist James Clifford raised troubling questions about the unequal power relationships that existed between majority (read, white-run) museums and Native Americans inspired by an encounter he witnessed between tribal elders and staff at the Portland Art Museum. Among other things, Clifford argued for museums to adopt new strategies of representation that would accord greater recognition and respect to the meaning of sacred objects, as conveyed through living indigenous memory and perspective. Published more than a decade later, based on conference papers originally presented at the Newberry Library's D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History, Contesting Knowledge features essays by scholars who study indigenous museums and material culture. The very readable volume, edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith of Michigan State University, speaks to the transformations as well as the complications that have occurred in the field since Clifford's piece originally appeared--precipitated, in part, by the continuing expansion of tribal museums, some with elaborate exhibition programs fueled by casino development.

Journal

Western American LiteratureThe Western Literature Association

Published: Aug 13, 2010

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