Loyola University Chicago

Department of Anthropology


2019-20 Anthropology Speaker Series Kicks off Oct. 2




Kristin Otto

October 2, 2019 | 6:30-7:30 PM

Information Commons 4th Floor

The topic of repair is an emerging theme in material cultures studies that examines the many ways in which people maintain, care for, and/or alter objects over time. It responds to scholarly interests in materiality and agency, as well as general cultural concerns about the current relationships between people and the objects they consume. This talk will give an overview of the still-developing theme of repair in material culture studies, moves to focus on the study of repair in museum collections, and what evidence of repair can tell us about how people view cultural objects. Through a case-study of sowei masks from West Africa, Otto argues that repair is a forward-thinking process that continually reinterprets material in order to create new forms, identities, and value in diverse contexts.

Kristin Otto is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Bloomington,an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and a research associate with the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Her dissertation research focuses on repair and material culture, and more specifically on West African sowei masks as they circulate globally. In her broader research in museum anthropology, Otto has curated two exhibitions: “Shapes of the Ancestors: Bodies, Animals, Art, and Ghanaian Fantasy Coffins” (2018) at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, and “Extending Lives: Repair and Damage in African Arts” (2017) at the Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Otto's talk is the first event in the Department of Anthropology 2019-20 Speaker Series, focused on the theme of "Repairing Lives and Things: Creation and Connection."