Call for papers. “Reimagining The Human: Exploring Best Practice In Object-Led Work With Ethnographic Collections”


Horniman Museum and Gardens, 28-29 November 2018

ICME (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography) and the Horniman Museum and Gardens invite scholars and practitioners to explore innovative practices and theories in object-led work with ethnographic collections. Object-led practice can draw strongly on our ability to employ the senses to reimagine our place in the world. In-depth engagement with ethnographic objects in particular can promote social interactions and critical reflections on the logics of power and prejudice upon which collections are constituted.

This two-day conference, organised in collaboration with ICOM national committees of Pakistan, Germany, Croatia and Norway, is informed by humanist anthropology, which starts from the experience of human actors, addressing what it means to be human and to live a human life. In ethnographic museums, it supports and imagines diverse forms of public engagement and education and promotes activism.

On the first day speakers will respond to the questions addressed by the conference. The second day follows a workshop format which translates into practice the debates explored using the Horminan's collection.

Keynote speaker Dr. Sandra Dudley will open the conference. Her research as a social and material anthropologist transects social anthropology, museum studies, and material culture studies.

The organizers are particularly interested to hear from contributors whose research and/or practice engage with the following questions:

  • How can ethnographic collections be used to examine or contest established notions of 'Self' and 'Other'?
  • How can dialogical and/or affective engagement with ethnographic objects promote critical reflections on controversial issues (e.g. colonial legacies such as racism, ethnocentrism and primitivism, memory making, gender stereotypes)?
  • To what extent can imaginative engagement with objects (through poetry, drawing, drama, dance, storytelling, music, etc) help challenge a fixed understanding of cultural identity and promote inter and transcultural dialogue?
  • How can ethnographic museums use object-led practice to strengthen community collaboration and sense of ownership of collections?

Deadline for submission: 1 October 2018.