Awkward Objects of Genocide

The Holocaust and Vernacular Arts in and beyond Polish Ethnographic Museums   Eastern Europe witnessed 14 million deaths in a period of little more than a decade between 1933 and 1945. The local impact of such widespread and wanton killing as it reverberated in towns, villages, and communities over the subsequent decades is only just […]

Displayed, Not Played

Musical Objects in Shifting Contexts As much as many of us would like to deny it, the art/artifact dichotomy is still with us, and denies many objects comfortable homes in art, anthropology, or natural history museums. Moreover, it runs the risk of alienating the individual viewer within a mass of academic debris, simultaneously blurring aesthetic […]

Ephemeral Encounters and Material Evidence

In 2016, the American Philosophical Society Museum in Philadelphia opened a new exhibition curated by Diana Marsh and Lynnette Regouby, titled “Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America.” Writing from my perspective as an advisor to that exhibition, I share some reflections on the challenges of interpreting Indigenous traditions captured in colonial collections. Material Evidence […]