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Taking care of difference in museums
Billie Lythberg, Wayne Ngata and Amiria Salmond

colonisation.5 Yet, as Indigenous scholars6 and theorists like Elizabeth Povinelli have pointed out, multiculturalist policies have at the same time served as powerful strategies of commensuration deployed to smooth out distinctions between groups to the advantage of ruling elites.7 In defining certain kinds of difference as ‘cultural’ (as opposed to, say, political), multiculturalism Curating the uncommons mobilises a powerful ontology of sameness that can be used to dismiss those who insist on the fundamental importance of things that might exceed its realms of

in Curatopia
James Clifford

reason. What might be called Darwinian time – developmental, materially adaptive 7 110 North America and without any guaranteed destination – interjected a new, and troubling, ontological ‘ground’, or lack of ground. This unmanageable seriality may account for the anxiety, as well as the desire, associated with the collecting and preserving in museums around 1900. And it may have something to do with the remarkable productivity and dissemination of the museum form in the present moment of historical uncertainty. Since the eighteenth century, Western curating has

in Curatopia
Learning from Māori curatorship pastand present
Conal McCarthy, Arapata Hakiwai and Philipp Schorch

foreign concept to many Māori, they’ve always practised the care of cultural treasures. Te Rangihīroa was an amazing person who has always been regarded on my Taranaki side as a rangatira [chief]. To us, we’ve grown up knowing him, as well as Ngata and other graduates of Te Aute [Anglican Māori college].13 The ‘practical’ or ‘empirical’ anthropology of Ngata, and his ally Peter Buck (Te Rangihīroa), who became a prominent scholar of the Pacific and director of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, has strong parallels with what has been referred to as the ‘ontological turn

in Curatopia
Abstract only
Rick Peterson

subjects and the ascribed agency of passive objects. Latour, on the other hand, works with a ‘flat ontology’ which would describe the agency of people, animals and things in the same way. Gell (1998, 16) sets out by defining agency in a way which ties it strongly to deliberate human intentions. Despite this definition, he then develops an argument which suggests that art objects have an extremely powerful kind of agency (Gell 1998, 13–17). To do this, he introduces the concept of the ‘index’. An index is any object which allows people to make a ‘causal inference’ Gell

in Neolithic cave burials
Rick Peterson

ontology of the body can be multimodal. A human body, especially a corpse going through the points of transition within a network, can act and be conceptualised as both a person and a thing. Therefore, the changes happening to dead bodies would have also served to highlight the multimodal nature of the ontology of the body. It is important to remember that the intermediary period does not only involve the dead body and the mourners. The experience of the intermediary period also derives from the interaction between the agency of living people, the agency of the decaying

in Neolithic cave burials
Jette Sandahl

privilege and supremacy. The ironic result of the ‘inverted epistemology’ is ‘that whites will in general be unable to understand the world that they themselves have made, and because they do not understand the racist world in which they live, white people are able to fully benefit from its racial hierarchies, ontologies and economies’.39 Nothing ‘Nothing’, said Malcolm X, as a response to a White woman who asked what she could do to further his cause. He then softened and continued that where White people had to work was with the racism in their own White communities.40

in Curatopia
Foe, facilitator, friend or forsaken?
Bryony Onciul

networks, accommodate differing ontologies and epistemologies, and create new approaches to working with, and caring for, the past for the future. Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand provide examples of institutions that manage to balance the respect for the expertise of source communities and curators. The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), UBC, Canada, both formally recognise source community ownership of the collections.38 Yet, they also employ subject-specific curators, whose skills enable them to work with collections

in Curatopia