Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums

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UBC Press, 1992 - Antiques & Collectibles - 212 pages
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Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes poses a number of probing questions about the role and responsibility of museums and anthropology in the contemporary world. In it, Michael Ames, an internationally renowned museum director, challenges popular concepts and criticisms of museums and presents an alternate perspective which reflects his experiences from many years of museum work.

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

The earlier essays outline the development of museums in the Western world, the problems faced by anthropologists in attempting to deal with the often conflicting demands of professional as opposed to public interests, the tendency to both fabricate and stereotype, and the need to establish a reciprocal rather than exploitative relationship between museums/anthropologists and Aboriginal people.

Written during the course of the last decade, these essays offer an accessible, often anecdotal, journey through one professional anthropologist's concerns about, and hopes for, his discipline and its 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


The Critical Theory and Practice of Museums
Public Service
What Could a Social Anthropologist Do in a Museum
How Anthropologists Stereotype Other People
How Anthropologists Help to Fabricate the Cultures
The Case of Willie Seaweed
The Emerging Native View of History and Culture
Are Museums or Anthropology Really Necessary
The Ideology
The Big Mac Attack and the Anthropology of Everyday Life
Cannibal Tours Glass Boxes and the Politics
Museums in the Age of Deconstruction

A Proposal to Increase Public

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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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