Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums

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UBC Press, Jan 1, 1992 - Antiques & Collectibles - 212 pages
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Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes poses a number of probingquestions about the role and responsibility of museums and anthropologyin the contemporary world. In it, Michael Ames, an internationallyrenowned museum director, challenges popular concepts and criticisms ofmuseums and presents an alternate perspective which reflects hisexperiences from many years of museum work.

Based on the author's previous book, Museums, the Public andAnthropology, the new edition includes seven new essays which argue, asin the previous volume, that museums and anthropologists mustcontextualize and critique themselves -- they must analyse and critiquethe social, political and economic systems within which they work. Inthe new essays, Ames looks at the role of consumerism and the marketeconomy in the production of such phenomena as worlds' fairs andMcDonald's hamburger chains, referring to them as "museums ofeveryday life" and indicating the way in which they, like museums,transform ideology into commonsense, thus reinforcing and perpetuatinghegemonic control over how people think about and represent themselves.He also discusses the moral/political ramifications of conflictingattitudes towards Aboriginal art (is it art or artifact?); censorship(is it liberating or repressive?); and museum exhibits (are theyinformative or disinformative?).

The earlier essays outline the development of museums in the Westernworld, the problems faced by anthropologists in attempting to deal withthe often conflicting demands of professional as opposed to publicinterests, the tendency to both fabricate and stereotype, and the needto establish a reciprocal rather than exploitative relationship betweenmuseums/anthropologists and Aboriginal people.

Written during the course of the last decade, these essays offer anaccessible, often anecdotal, journey through one professionalanthropologist's concerns about, and hopes for, his discipline andits future.

  

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User Review  - yarkan - LibraryThing

It has some interesting bits on museums and anthropology, I think. Although I probably need to read that again. Read full review

Contents

The Critical Theory and Practice of Museums
3
Tensions
15
Public Service
25
What Could a Social Anthropologist Do in a Museum
38
How Anthropologists Stereotype Other People
49
How Anthropologists Help to Fabricate the Cultures
59
The Case of Willie Seaweed
70
The Emerging Native View of History and Culture
77
Are Museums or Anthropology Really Necessary
98
The Ideology
111
The Big Mac Attack and the Anthropology of Everyday Life
132
Cannibal Tours Glass Boxes and the Politics
139
Museums in the Age of Deconstruction
151
Notes
169
Bibliography
175
Index
203

A Proposal to Increase Public
89

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About the author (1992)

Michael M. Ames is director of the Museum of Anthropology and a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

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