The Social History of a National Collection: Anthropology, Repatriation and the Politics of Identity

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/195523
Title:
The Social History of a National Collection: Anthropology, Repatriation and the Politics of Identity
Author:
Clouse, Abigail Elizabeth
Issue Date:
2006
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
In this dissertation I analyze the social history of an anthropological collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Combining archival and historical research with interviews, I trace the Army Medical Museum (AMM) collection from its origin in the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The Smithsonian's AMM collection is the product of mid- to late-nineteenth century government science. Assembled in the midst of westward expansion and colonization, this collection is the result of numerous government-sanctioned collecting efforts. Accordingly, the objects and human remains that comprise this collection were taken from scores of Native American tribes from all parts of the United States. Amassed during some of the darkest moments in the history of the United States - marked by warfare, death and the displacement of countless Native Americans - the AMM collection represents the Smithsonian's earliest collecting efforts. The social history of this collection spans from the earliest days of the SI to the present, marked by concerns regarding cultural property rights. And what the present moment demonstrates is the continued relevance of this colonial past, especially in the context of repatriation. I analyze critical contemporary issues of repatriation in terms of the historical legacy of collecting in the U.S. and demonstrate the role that collections play in negotiating identities. For that purpose, I begin with the supposition that objects shape as well as materialize identity, and that disciplines define themselves by virtue of what they collect. I examine recent shifts in what is deemed ethically appropriate for collection and how this affects the various ways museum anthropologists define the discipline. Ultimately, this dissertation advances a critical historical analysis of the AMM collection, providing a more dynamic understanding of the role that repatriation plays in redefining the roles of anthropologists within museums.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Repatriation; Museums; Nineteenth Century Collecting; Anthropology
Degree Name:
PhD
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Comparative Cultural & Literary Studies; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Babcock, Barbara A.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleThe Social History of a National Collection: Anthropology, Repatriation and the Politics of Identityen_US
dc.creatorClouse, Abigail Elizabethen_US
dc.contributor.authorClouse, Abigail Elizabethen_US
dc.date.issued2006en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn this dissertation I analyze the social history of an anthropological collection at the Smithsonian Institution. Combining archival and historical research with interviews, I trace the Army Medical Museum (AMM) collection from its origin in the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The Smithsonian's AMM collection is the product of mid- to late-nineteenth century government science. Assembled in the midst of westward expansion and colonization, this collection is the result of numerous government-sanctioned collecting efforts. Accordingly, the objects and human remains that comprise this collection were taken from scores of Native American tribes from all parts of the United States. Amassed during some of the darkest moments in the history of the United States - marked by warfare, death and the displacement of countless Native Americans - the AMM collection represents the Smithsonian's earliest collecting efforts. The social history of this collection spans from the earliest days of the SI to the present, marked by concerns regarding cultural property rights. And what the present moment demonstrates is the continued relevance of this colonial past, especially in the context of repatriation. I analyze critical contemporary issues of repatriation in terms of the historical legacy of collecting in the U.S. and demonstrate the role that collections play in negotiating identities. For that purpose, I begin with the supposition that objects shape as well as materialize identity, and that disciplines define themselves by virtue of what they collect. I examine recent shifts in what is deemed ethically appropriate for collection and how this affects the various ways museum anthropologists define the discipline. Ultimately, this dissertation advances a critical historical analysis of the AMM collection, providing a more dynamic understanding of the role that repatriation plays in redefining the roles of anthropologists within museums.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectRepatriationen_US
dc.subjectMuseumsen_US
dc.subjectNineteenth Century Collectingen_US
dc.subjectAnthropologyen_US
thesis.degree.namePhDen_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineComparative Cultural & Literary Studiesen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairBabcock, Barbara A.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBabcock, Barbara A.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberCrane, Susanen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberAlvarez, Maribelen_US
dc.identifier.proquest1902en_US
dc.identifier.oclc659746466en_US
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