"Old Media, Anthropology and the Digital Return" with Hannah Turner

"Old Media, Anthropology and the Digital Return" with Hannah Turner


This talk details how objects collected during ethnographic or anthropological research (in particular from North American  Indigenous communities) became scientific tools and sources of evidence in museums. Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 5pm IES 123/124 

This talk will introduce a media history of anthropology by looking at the technologies and visualization strategies that have been used to document and record material culture. By giving a history of these bureaucratic technologies (like collecting guides, ledger books, catalog cards and modern databases) it will contextualize how scientific objectivity came to stand in for originating communities’ perspectives and ideas about the world. Today, as museums and communities experiment with new technologies and visualizations (like 3D Scanning and printing) as well as new protocols and methods for collaborative mediation, an uneasy balance is struck between technological innovation and cultural history preservation. 

How do past infrastructures influence contemporary engagements with material culture for repatriation or digital return work? Do new visualizations of objects lead to new knowledges? Ultimately, this talk will argue that a historicized approach to understanding media technologies is integral to understanding the ways in which knowledge has been practiced and performed in ethnographic museums through time.


Cosponsored with the Department of Anthropology and the Public History Program