[URBANTH-L]CFP: The World Under One Roof (Vienna, Austria)
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
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.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Paper proposals are invited addressing "The World under One Roof: Past,
Present and Future Ethnographic Approaches to Universality" or any of the
'Ethnographic Curatorship' and Universal Heritage in historical and
'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
Email: icme2007 at yahoogroups.com
Visit the website at http://icme.icom.museum
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