Museums and Anthropology in the Age of Engagement  book cover
1st Edition

Museums and Anthropology in the Age of Engagement

ISBN 9781611329162
Published November 6, 2019 by Routledge
292 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Museums and Anthropology in the Age of Engagement considers changes that have been taking place in museum anthropology as it has been responding to pressures to be more socially relevant, useful, and accountable to diverse communities.

Based on the author’s own research and applied work over the past 30 years, the book gives examples of the wide-ranging work being carried out today in museum anthropology as both an academic, scholarly field and variety of applied, public anthropology. While it examines major trends that characterize our current "age of engagement," the book also critically examines the public role of museums and anthropology in colonial and postcolonial contexts, namely in the US, the Netherlands, and Indonesia. Throughout the book, Kreps questions what purposes and interests museums and anthropology serve in these different times and places.

Museums and Anthropology in the Age of Engagement is a valuable resource for readers interested in an historical and comparative study of museums and anthropology, and the forms engagement has taken. It should be especially useful to students and instructors looking for a text that provides in one volume a history of museum anthropology and methods for doing critical, reflexive museum ethnography and collaborative work.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Introduction: Museums and Anthropology in the Age of Engagement

Chapter 2

Mapping Contemporary Anthropology

Chapter 3

Museum and Applied Anthropology: Shared Histories and Trajectories

Chapter 4

Museums and Anthropology in the Netherlands: Colonial and Postcolonial Narratives

Chapter 5

"Museum Frictions" in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia

Chapter 6

International Collaboration and the Values of Culture and Heritage

Chapter 7

Doing Museum Anthropology "At Home"

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Christina Kreps is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the cross-cultural and comparative study of museums and museological practices. She has carried out ethnographic research on museums and participated in museum development and training programs in the Netherlands, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. At the University of Denver she is Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Museum of Anthropology and Museum and Heritage Studies Program.


"This volume brings a comprehensive perspective to the relationship between anthropology as practiced in museums and other sites of engaged anthropology. Christina Kreps makes a compelling argument for considering museum anthropology as applied work, in the best sense of the word. She highlights innovative practices that anthropologists and museum professionals are using currently to bring social and cultural issues to audiences not used to seeing them addressed in such distinctive ways. By putting current efforts at engagement into broader comparative and temporal context, she has constructed a text that will be useful to students in museum studies, anthropology theory and material culture studies." -Alaka Wali, Ph.D.; Curator of North American Anthropology; Field Museum, Chicago; Fellow, The Neubauer Collegium at University of Chicago


"For many years, Christina Kreps has been at the forefront of developing an engaged museum anthropology. In this essential volume, Kreps takes her on-the-ground experiences across the globe and crafts them into sophisticated yet straightforward theoretical arguments about the past and future of museums. If you want to understand the intersections of museum work and applied anthropology, the rights of communities, or the possibilities of collaboration and the dangers of entrenched colonialism, then you’ll find this book vital and necessary reading." -Chip Colwell, Ph.D.; Senior Curator of Anthropology, Denver Museum of Nature & Science


"This beautifully written and richly illustrated monograph is based on long-standing research, but is also up to date with the latest critical theory and academic debates, amounting to decades of thinking and writing directed to important issues central to museums, anthropology, and their relationships with communities." -Conal McCarthy, Victoria University of Wellington