David Z. Scheffel, Phillips, Ruth B.: Museum Pieces. Toward the In digenization of Canadian Museums in:

Anthropos, page 657 - 658

Anthropos, Volume 107 (2012), Issue 2, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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Anthropos 107.2012 657Rezensionen geschaffen. Teilweise werden Fachbegriffe vorausgesetzt (khatam-kar [26], mashrabiya [27]), die zumindest in einem Glossar am Ende des Bandes hätten erklärt wer den müssen. Die Nutzung und der kulturelle Kontext eini ger Objekte werden, vielleicht auch durch die Kürze der Begleittexte bedingt, knapp und allgemein erläutert. Auf Besonderheiten der abgebildeten Exponate, etwa in ihrer Form, verwendeten Motiven oder Inschriften, die eigent lich entscheidend zur “kulturelle[n] Relevanz eines Ob jekts” (11) beitragen, wird in den meisten Fällen nicht eingegangen. Zusammenfassend lässt sich festhalten, dass die Sammlung und ihre Objekte in diesem Begleitband in den Hintergrund treten. Sie scheinen lediglich Anlass dieser Aufsatzsammlung zu sein und diese zu illustrieren. Die Exponate hätten es jedoch verdient, in den Mittelpunkt des Begleitbandes zur Dauerausstellung gestellt zu wer den. Differenzierte Aussagen über muslimische Gesell schaften hätten auch durch eine auf das Objekt bezogene bzw. von ihm ausgehende Kontextualisierung getroffen und dem Publikum vermittelt werden können. So wären Forschung und Museum gelungen verschränkt worden und hätten besser voneinander profitieren können. Für den Sammlungsinteressierten wäre es zudem ein größe rer Gewinn gewesen, die Sammlungsgeschichte und die Wege der Objekte in die Sammlung zu vertiefen; ein Thema, dem in aktuellen Forschungsprojekten vermehrt nachgegangen wird. Dies hätte auch Schwerpunkte und Lücken im Sammlungsbestand und Begleitband erklärt, etwa den Mangel an Exponaten vor dem 19. Jh. oder der zeitgenössischen muslimischen Kulturproduktion in Deutschland. Abschließend noch eine Bemerkung zum Titel “Wel ten der Muslime”. Dieser verspricht anderes als Dauer ausstellung und Begleitband leisten können, was jedoch nicht die kulturelle Bedeutung der Exponate und Leis tung der Autoren schmälern soll. Das Museum hätte gut daran getan, ähnlich dem Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, das seine neuausgestellte Sammlung islami scher Kunst als “Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia” zeigt, wenigstens im Untertitel zu präzisieren, was die Stärke dieser Sammlung ist und letztlich auch des Begleitbandes sein sollte: nämlich die materielle Kultur muslimischer Gesellschaften in Nordafrika, West und Zentralasien des 19. bis Mitte des 20. Jh.s. Miriam Kühn Phillips, Ruth B.: Museum Pieces. Toward the In digenization of Canadian Museums. Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 2011. 392 pp. ISBN 978 0 7735 3906 8. Price $ 39.95 As the title suggests, this is a collection of essays, written over a period of some twenty years, describing the growing influence of indigenous interest groups over Canadian museums with significant ethnographic collec tions. The author, an art historian and anthropologist who participated in the process of “indigenization” as an in fluential member of the Canadian museological establish ment, endorses this development but, thankfully, main tains enough scholarly distance to sound a few alarm bells as well. The political scene is set in Part One of the book, un der the rubric of “Confrontation and Contestation,” where Phillips describes some key events that contributed to Ca nadian aboriginal groups challenging traditional museo logical conventions. Phillips begins this section with a detailed analysis of Expo 67 in Montreal as an early ex ample of clashing views on the portrayal of the aboriginal peoples’ position in Canadian history and society, and the ability of native artists and interest groups to shape it in unconventional and influential ways. It comes as no sur prise, though, that she singles out the 1988 “The Spirit Sings” exhibition at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary as the trigger that set in motion the radical redesign of the role of native people in Canadian museology. Intended as a showpiece of aboriginal arts and crafts on the occasion of the Calgary Olympics, the exhibition led to an interna tional boycott organized by native groups and their sup porters to protest the disenfranchisement of Canadian ab original people. The controversy led to the formation of a government funded “Task Force on Museums and First Peoples” which spent four years, 1988–1992, on formu lating new principles for the involvement of aboriginal in terest groups in decisions about the appropriate depiction of native people in Canadian museums. Ruth Phillips was a member of this task force, and this may have been a factor in her becoming the direc tor of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 1997. Here she succeeded the doyen of Canada’s “critical museologists,” Michael Ames, who had advanced the partnership with local aboriginal groups well beyond the prevailing norm. In Part Two, called “Re disciplining the Museum,” Phillips offers some intriguing insights into the challenges posed to established museo logical practices by the growing influence of native stake holders. She discusses the restrictions on the display or even possession of sacred or otherwise sensitive objects, such as Iroquois wampum belts and so called “false face” masks, and she concludes that such restrictions are justi fied as a gesture of resistance to “the axis of knowledge and power that was activated during the colonial period, through academic and popular projects of representation” (129). On the other hand, she refuses to join the camp of hard core advocates of universal repatriation of native ar tifacts, arguing instead in favor of a nuanced approach that takes into consideration how a given object ended up in a museum collection. Part Three – “Working It out” – reviews several exhi bitions at major Canadian museums and galleries where the new partnership between museum professionals and representatives of aboriginal groups has been entrenched. Phillips sees this “collaborative paradigm of exhibition production” as involving “a new form of power sharing in which museum and community partners co manage a broad range of the activities” (188) in an effort to redress “past asymmetries of power in the treatment of intellec tual property” (190). More examples of “inclusiveness” and “dialogic part nerships” follow in the concluding Part Four, called “The 658 Anthropos 107.2012 Rezensionen Second Museum Age” in reference to the first, tradition al, era of colonialism that gave birth to these institutions. Perhaps the most radical innovation described under this rubric is the ongoing digitalization of museum collections which has allowed people from the outside to view the contents of drawers and storage cabinets on their home computer screens. As a pioneer of this development dur ing her tenure at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Phil lips provides an insider’s perspective on a technique rep licated around the globe. Here she makes the interesting observation that it offers a kind of “digital repatriation” that provides originating communities with virtual access to artifacts without requiring their physical removal from established museum collections. This is an engaging and informative collection pre sented by a highly qualified and knowledgeable scholar and museum professional. The book is beautifully pro duced and enriched by many evocative photographs that add considerably to the topics under discussion. But it suffers from two drawbacks. First of all, it is too long and repetitive. Joining sixteen “pieces” written over some twenty odd years presents a formidable problem, espe cially when the theme under consideration is relatively narrow. Phillips writes well and that, in combination with introductory sections written specifically for this volume, somewhat eases the strain of repetition, though not en tirely. My second, and more important, criticism stems from the author’s refusal to venture beyond political cor rectness in her willingness to assess some of the likely consequences of “indigenization” discussed here in such detail. The process described here for Canadian museums is but a fragment of the larger global project of “reposses sion” initiated by subjugated peoples as part of their (at tempted) decolonization in order to break the monopoly of outsiders, including anthropologists and museologists, on the depiction and interpretation of the non Western “Other.” While Phillips is clearly aware of this larger con text and makes scattered references to it, she says pre ciously little about situations where the views and inter pretations of the academic and the native clash. In her positive review of a new Blackfoot gallery at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, set up in accordance with the new “collaborative paradigm,”, Phillips reports that the aboriginal partners involved “saw this project as an opportunity to develop an educational place where fu ture generations of Blackfoot youth can learn the fun damentals of their own culture” (190). But this begs the question of who decides what these “fundamentals” are? More than ten years ago, I presented documented exam ples of some Canadian aboriginal groups deliberately dis torting the historical and ethnographic record in order to present an idealized image of their cultural “fundamen tals” (Scheffel, The Post Anthropological Indian. Cana da’s New Images of Aboriginality in the Age of Reposses sion. Anthropologica 42.2000: 175–187). A just released collection of anthropological case studies from South and North America calls attention to the systematic distortions in the public presentation – through books, films, and mu seum exhibits – of Amerindian cultural “fundamentals” pertaining to environmental degradation, warfare, and vi olence, and its authors interpret this as an issue cutting to the very core of the ethics of contemporary anthropologi cal research (Chacon and Mendoza, The Ethics of An thropology and Amerindian Research. Reporting on En vironmental Degradation and Warfare. New York 2012). Phillips herself is clearly aware of the potential misuse of museums for propagandistic purposes when she reflects about “what we stand to gain or lose when, in the future, we are approached to lend our space, our intellectual and cultural prestige, and our skills to government or com mercial projects” (89). This warning was triggered by the hijacking of the UBC Museum of Anthropology by the federal government during its hosting of the 1997 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but is it so far fetched to presume that aboriginal groups have their own political agendas as well, and that museums could become tools for their propagation? The digital catalogue of the UBC Museum of Anthro pology, laudably accessible by anyone, anywhere, with access to the internet, provides a fascinating view of its rich ethnographic collections. But here and there the user stumbles across darkened spaces where, instead of a vi brant image, the inscription “culturally sensitive” appears on the screen. A cursory exploration shows pipes, belts, masks, and even moccasins that cannot be depicted thanks to falling into the “culturally sensitive” category. The cat alogue has no explanation for what this class of artifacts entails or how and why it came into being. Phillips al ludes to “official agreements” between the museum and native band councils concerning “shared authority” over displays and, I assume, collections (74). But the reader searches in vain for a more detailed description of these agreements. The closest the author gets to it is in a foot note referring to the protocol of cooperation between the Museum of Anthropology and the Musqueam band which is acknowledged as the traditional owner of the land oc cupied by the University of British Columbia. Here we learn that “[t]he text of this protocol is not made public by request of the Musqueam First Nation” (p. 327, fn. 12). Let’s hope that someone uses this ominous void for fur ther exploration of this intriguing topic. David Z. Scheffel Pitschl, Johannes: Homosexualität im Schnittfeld. Differente Identitätskonstruktionen in den LGBT Com munities und Bewegungen von Salvador da Bahia, Brasi lien. Wien: LIT Verlag, 2011. 167 pp. ISBN 978 3 643 50314 5. (Investigaciones – Forschungen zu Lateiname rika, 15) Preis: € 19.90 Das vorliegende Buch wurde 2010 als Diplomarbeit an der Universität Wien eingereicht. Es ist die Frucht einer über den Zeitraum von zweieinhalb Jahren sich er streckenden Feldforschung unter nichtheterosexuell ver anlagten Menschen in Salvador da Bahia, Brasilien. Das hier negativ charakterisierte Forschungsobjekt ist nicht anders in einem Begriff zu erfassen, weil eine Unzahl von Termini existiert, die je nach Veranlagung und Aktivität der Betreffenden festgelegt sind bzw. neu entstehen. Da mit sind bereits der Kern und das Anliegen des Autors an

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.