Please wait a few moments while we replace your file.
The file was successfully replaced.
My research, teaching, and applied work crosses a number of disciplines and concerns, including anthropology, museology, art, international cultural policy and development. I have been studying the museum as a cultural phenomenon and cross-cultural approaches to museums, curation, and heritage preservation for nearly twenty years. (See "Liberating Culture: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Museums, Curation and Heritage Preservation," 2003) Recently, I have been examining the role of museums in promoting and protecting intangible cultural heritage. In 2005, I was awarded a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship through the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to explore how indigenous curation and concepts of heritage preservation are examples of intangible cultural heritage, and thus, eligible to be protected under the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage(see online article under "Theorizing Heritage"). Currently, I am exploring what I call "cultural humanitarianism," or the integration of cultural concerns into humanitarian aid and efforts. I am examining how cultural humnitarianism is being applied at the Museum Pusaka Nias, in the town of Genungsitoli on the island of Nias off the northwest coast of Sumatra. In March 2005, a 8.7. earthquake flattened much of Genungsitoli. Although severely damaged, much of the museum survived. Museum staff made an appeal for aid from the international museum community for reconstruction and the response has been remarkable. I'm looking at how culture is being conceptualized as a "basic need," and how emergency cultural aid is being conceptualized, managed, and reconciled with other "basic needs" for survival. In my teaching I foster a critical and comparative museology, coupled with reflexive practice. I see museum anthropology as applied anthropology. Museums are a venue for making anthropological insights and knowledge accessible and relevant to the public. Museums, as institutions of public culture, are a forum for exploring contemporary social issues and concerns. I emphasize the importance of civic engagement in our museum studies curriculum, on both local and global levels.
The Learning Museum Project
As a representative of the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology I am currently (2010-2013) a network partner of the Learning Museum Project (LEM), which is European project funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme Gruntvig/European Commission. The project aims to create a European network of museums and cultural heritage organizations active in lifelong learning initiatives. My role is to contribute information on museum activities in the United States and elsewhere devoted to community participation in museums and expansion of the museum concept beyond museum walls.
Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Fieldschool, Thailand
Since 2009, I have been a 'resource person' for the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Fieldschool organized by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre in Bangkok in cooperation with the Asia Academy for Heritage Management and UNESCO Bangkok. For two weeks, paricipants from throughout Asia undertake training in ethnographic research methods for the documentation and safeguarding of living cultural heritage. From 2009 to 2012, the fieldschool took place in Lamphun Province, Thailand. In August 2013 the fieldschool will take place in Surin Province. For more information on the project see the article by Denes, et al., below.