[URBANTH-L]CFP: The World Under One Roof (Vienna, Austria)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Thu Mar 29 21:33:40 EDT 2007


The International Committee for Museums of Ethnography (ICME) invites papers 
addressing "The World under One Roof: Past, Present and Future Ethnographic 
Approaches to Universality" at its sessions during the ICOM general 
conference, Vienna, Austria, August 19-24 2007.

Call for Papers Deadline: March 31, 2007


In the Age of Enlightenment, the tension between particularism and 
universalism gave birth to the modern discipline of Anthropology. The 
scholarly challenge was to reconcile a burgeoning number of travel 
narratives depicting 'strange' customs in remote places with a general 
science of Humanity. In this époque, the idea of a "Universal Museum" was 
conceived and with it the curatorial problem of how to classify, arrange and 
exhibit the "curious objects" under its roof. Clearly a number of problems 
arise with the hierarchical 'othering' inherent in this historical approach, 
which lingers today. The ICME sessions will chart past, present and what 
might constitute future curatorial approaches to the following question: 
What universal narratives, if any, do ethnographic objects speak to?
Contemporary touchdowns might include the Musée du Quai-Branly in Paris, 
where the exhibition Qu'est-ce qu'un corps? (What is a body?), features 
different perceptions of reality and aesthetics tied to specific places and 
times. The curatorial approach seems one of comparing and juxtaposing 
different cultural representations and perceptions of a universal category: 
The body. In D'un regard l'autre we enter yet another approach to 
universality: The production of ethnographic materials as an instrument of 
Empire. In other words, ethnography understood as the "White Man's labeling", 
a colonial knowledge project embedded in the relations between France and 
her peripheries.
Another contemporary approach is found in the Museum of World Culture in 
Gothenburg. Here the focus is on connections, frictions and migrations 
between the cultures of the world, resulting in de-territorialized patchwork 
of Diasporas and trans-national ethnicities as carriers and makers of hybrid 
ethnographic materials. This curatorial approach seems to be underwritten by 
the notion of a world in cultural flux, where notions of authenticity and 
origin are subject to critical questioning.
It is now more than a Century ago since the Pitt Rivers Museum opened its 
doors to yet another universal approach to ethnographic materials. In 
Oxford, Pitt Rivers organized the ethnographic objects typologically, 
according to each object's ability to solve a technological problem 
associated with everyday life: fire making, shelter, clothing, hunting and 
gathering, etc. The layout of the displays was not organized by cultures or 
connections, but arranged within a universal evolutionary framework. While 
much of the public face of the displays reflects this discredited Victorian 
heritage - representing a meta-statement on the idea of universality 
vis-à-vis ethnographic objects - the museum today is simultaneously engaged 
in serious consultation with both 'source communities' around the world as 
well as local Oxford groups.
Against this backdrop of changing approaches to universality, ICME invites 
papers to interrogate past and present assumptions about universality so we 
can better understand and perhaps rediscover possible futures of Universal 
Heritage in Ethnographic Museums.

Paper proposals are invited addressing "The World under One Roof: Past, 
Present and Future Ethnographic Approaches to Universality" or any of the 
following sub-themes:

'Ethnographic Curatorship' and Universal Heritage in historical and 
contemporary perspectives.
'Locality' and ethnographic representation.
'Holism' as an ethnographic focus.
The future of 'The Collection', and collections of the future: What's next?

Paper proposals of up to 250 words may be submitted to 
ICME2007 at yahoogroups.com until March 31, 2007.
Fifteen minutes will be allotted for presentation of each accepted paper, 
and five additional minutes for discussion. In addition to regular 
presentations, a limited number of "Virtual Presentations" will be accepted, 
consisting of "stand alone" PowerPoint or other types of media presentations 
which wouldn't need a live speaker to be understood by the audience.

Further information is available on the ICME web site 
http://icme.icom.museum ,or from the ICME2007 working group at 
icme2007 at yahoogroups.com , fax/voicemail number +13094245780, or Skype: 
ICME2007 working group
fax/voicemail: +13094245780
Skype: icmepresident
Email: icme2007 at yahoogroups.com
Visit the website at http://icme.icom.museum 

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