Washington, D.C. event: The Unexpected Rewards of a Career in Museum Anthropology

Speaker: Jake Homiak, Smithsonian Institution

When: Tuesday, November 5th, 2013,  7:00 pm

Where: Sumner School, Rotating Gallery G-4

Pre-meeting get-together, 5:30 pm Beacon Bar and Grill. Registration is helpful, but not required.

In the late 19th century anthropology was largely a museum-focused discipline shaped by scholars concerned with collecting the artifacts and documenting the rituals, languages, and the expressive forms of Native cultures expected to soon disappear. A century later — with the decolonization of anthropology and pressure to collaborate with ‘traditional’ communities — concepts such as cultural equity, cultural property, and indigenous knowledge have shifted understandings about curatorial authority and repositioned debates about the meanings of ethnographic and archival collections.

Today, the manner in which museums curators document, care for, provide access to, broker and exhibit ethnographic artifacts and materials are projects profoundly shaped by ongoing relations with source communities whose materials they hold. Jake Homiak, the Director of the Anthropology Collections & Archives Program at the Smithsonian, will discuss these issues in relation to his own career variously as a collection manager, an ‘accidental archivist’, and anthropologist whose museum work frequently brings him into contact with the members of Native communities. He also reflects on how these same concerns have shaped his own long-term ethnographic work in the Caribbean with Rastafari communities.

Presenter bio:

Jake Homiak is the Director of the Anthropology Collections & Archives Program in the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History. He is now currently responsible for all anthropology collections and archival holdings at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center including the care, preservation, and researcher access to collections.

More information: The Unexpected Rewards of a Career in Museum Anthropology

Sponsored by the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists

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