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24th March, 2020

The Future of Museum Anthropology


Event Details

24th March, 2020
18:30 - 19:30
Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
UCL Wilkins Building
Gower Street

Anthropology was in part born in the museum. Today the colonial legacies contained within ethnographic collections, as well as the questions about the politics of cultural representation, continue to inflect and impact the discipline, even as it has largely removed itself from the space of the museum.

Haidy Geismar, Professor of Anthropology, UCL Department of Anthropology, delivers her Inaugural Lecture.



Today, museums are crucial sites in the negotiation of colonial histories, and in the contemporary imagination of a globalized civil society. Objects, and collections, continue to be important sites for the negotiation of identities and for working out forms of restitution and reparation. In the wake of increased calls to decolonize both museums and the discipline of anthropology, what is the future of museum anthropology? Drawing on my own work in Vanuatu and New Zealand, as curator of the UCL Ethnography Collections, and in imagining the role of objects and collections in our new campus at UCL East, I explore the enduring questions around cultural representation, inequality, and colonial legacies. Do digital technologies have the power to redeem colonial regimes of ownership or do they simply continue colonial knowledge systems? What can young people in contemporary London learn from Ethnographic collections? and what is the future of these collections in the wake of radical claims for restitution and repatriation?

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