Society for East Asian Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In many museums around the world, Indigenous peoples have objected to research on their cultures along with the exhibition and storage of their cultural artifacts. As a result, new movements have emerged, such as the rethinking of exhibitions and the repatriation of some collections to Indigenous groups. The establishment of “new” relationships between Indigenous groups and museums is also an important trend among museums globally. In particular, although it is not “repatriation” itself, sharing ethnic-knowledge and working together through museum activities helps foster new relationships and I will examine one exhibition as an example.
The “Craft and Spirit of the N. G. Munro Collection” (2002, Sapporo and Yokohama) was an exhibition that introduced the Ainu materials collected by the Scottish surgeon Neil Gordon Munro. Preparing the exhibition, not only the curators but also seven Ainu artists actually traveled to Scotland and conducted research on the museum materials using “their own handling” procedures to produce reproductions of their cultural traditions.
In this talk I will reconsider this exhibition from the global context of museum anthropology. I am convinced that the “contact-zone,” mentioned by J. Clifford applies in this case. Clifford borrowed the term from M. L. Pratt, whose definition is “the space of colonial encounters,” where “peoples geographically and historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations.” In my talk I will explore the importance of contact-zones, and propose that museums consciously strive to form contact-zones as a part of their mission.