Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums

Front Cover
UBC Press, Jan 1, 1992 - Antiques & Collectibles - 212 pages
1 Review

In Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes, Michael Ames examines the role and responsibility of museums and anthropology in the contemporary world. The author, an internationally renowned museum director, challenges popular concepts and criticisms of museums and presents an alternative perspective which reflects his study of critical social theory and his experience from many years of museum work.

Based on the author’s previous book, Museums, the Public and Anthropology, this edition includes seven new essays which argue that museums and anthropologists must contextualize and critique themselves--that they must analyse and critique the social, political, and economic systems within which they work. In the new chapters, Ames looks at teh influence of consumerism and the market economy on museums and in the production of such phenomena as the world’s fairs and McDonald’s hamburger chains, referring to them as ‘museums of everyday life.’ He also discusses the moral and political ramifications of conflicting attitudes towards Aboriginal art (art or artefact?), censorship (liberating or repressive?), museum exhibits (informative or disinformative?), and postmodernism (a new theory or an old ideology?).

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 on eprofessional anthropologist’s concerns about, and hopes for, his discipline and its future.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

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

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

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.

Bibliographic information