||ICME Newsletter 48, October 2007
1. Words from the President
2. New ICME board
3. ICME sessions in Vienna 2007
4. ICME post conference tour
5. Report on the AVICOM meetings
6. Up-coming conferences
7. Call for papers
8. Other events
9. Words from the editor
What a wonderful meeting we had in Vienna just two short months ago. The papers addressing the theme of "The World under One Roof: Past, Present and Future Ethnographic Approaches to Universality" and its two sub-themes presented a variety of approaches and experiences from colleagues in many nations. We opened on the first day with a good session held in tandem with the International Committee of Regional Museums. Towards the end of the week, a special session on Diversity in Museums drew away a number of ICME members, with discussions relevant to our concerns.
After long days at the University of Vienna, ICME members were introduced to some of the ethnographic and ethnological museums in Vienna. These evenings were enlightening. They also provided easy times for socializing and sharing in relaxed settings. Not enough thanks can go to Matthias Beitl, our man in Vienna, for all the arrangements he made.
Another way ICME members have found of sharing is during our legendary post-conference tours organized in conjunction with the annual meetings.
I was honored to be asked to lead this committee of which I’ve been a member since 1980. It was somewhat difficult to realize how long I’ve known so many ICME members and how rewarding it is to renew our friendships at our meetings. ICME has grown since Mexico City. We have a phenomenal track record of significant annual meetings in many locations.
At Vienna, the ICOM membership approved a long-range strategic plan One Global Vision. It is opportune for ICME to adopt some of the overall ICOM goals for our own purposes over the next three years. To do this, we need to find out more about ICME’s members. In the next few months, look for a membership survey. Please fill it out and return it so we can learn who are members are and what we can do together.
Collaborative networks is one of the goals of the long-range plan. ICME has always reached out to other committees. This outreach can continue on several levels. We can plan our annual meetings in with partnership with one or more of the other international committees. ICME will remain involved in discussions of Intellectual Property with representation with WIPO.
A third way in which ICME can expand networks is to partner with museum organizations on all levels possible – local, regional, national and international. Each ICME board member serves as a correspondent for their country or region. They keep us informed of the activities among ethnographic museums worldwide through this newsletter. In addition, I have challenged board members to try to organize ICME oriented panels at the professional meetings in which they are involved. Through such an effort, we can engage ICME members who for a variety of reasons find it difficult to attend ICME meetings.
Our goals over the next three years are to continuing with collaborative efforts and getting to know the ICME membership.
With warmest regards,
Annette B. Fromm
[ firstname.lastname@example.org%20 ]email@example.com
At the conference in Vienna a new ICME board was elected for the period 2007-2010.
Annette Fromm, USA
Victoria Phiri, Zambia
Zvjezdana Antos, Croatia
Matthias Beitl, Austria
Peter Bjerregaard, Denmark
Martin Skrydstrup, Denmark
Anders Björklund, Sweden
Henry C. Bredekamp, South Africa
Ralf Ceplak Mencin, Slovenia
Arun Kumar Chatterjee, India
Denis Chevallier, France
Anne Therese Fabian, Philippines
Mihai Fifor, Romania
Yang Jongsung, South Korea
Tone Karlgard, Norway
Rongsenla Marsonsang, India
Anette Rein, Germany
Beate Wild, Germany
Barbara Woroncow, United Kingdom
The ICME sessions of this year’s ICOM general conference reflected the general conference theme of ‘Universal Heritage’ by asking for past, present, and future ethnographic approaches to universality and holism.
In accordance with Annette Fromm’s suggestion elsewhere in this newsletter that ICME should establish partnerships with other international committees, two of the sessions of this year’s conference were kept as joint sessions. The first day featured a joint session with the International Committee of Regional Museums, and the very last session was a workshop on copyright and intellectual property rights arranged by ICME in corporation with the ICOM legal affairs committee and the ICOM ethics committee.
In general one may argue that despite the current orientation towards universalistic approaches, particularly in Western European museums, the papers presented at the conference posted a healthy scepticism towards this trend. Not in the sense that universality should be discarded as a central approach for ethnographic museums dealing with humanity in its local and global settings, but rather from a questioning of how to create universalistic approaches on the basis of colonial collections, and what kind of understanding of universality we ought to embrace.
The two keynote speakers, Jane Leggett from New Zealand and Rick West from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, both represented approaches to ethnographic museums based in the recognition of community interests, and the need to carry these interests through in museum activities and exhibitions. In this sense, both speakers represented an approach that, based in the world views of the represented (and
Another theme covered by the presentations was examples of current approaches to universality in past and present ethnographic cases inside and outside the museum.
Bärbel Kerkhoff-Häder suggested water, with its live-giving and life-threatening qualities as a topic that might be approached on a universal scale with an eye to local, cultural solutions to dealing with water. Based in his detailed study of musical instruments Jeremy Montague emphasised that the concern with the universal should not only look at, how and why some traits apparently become universal, but also why other traits don’t.
As contrast to these kinds of universal perspectives, some presentations were concerned with the way universality is enacted locally. Anne Therese Mabanta-Fabian showed how we may turn the idea of the universal around and see it as represented in the regional, as when inputs from a range of different cultural traditions come together in the celebration of the Giant Lanterns in Pampanga in the Philippines. Peter Bjerregaard suggested that ‘particular universality’ might be a practicable concept for museums, stressing that we can not assemble the world under one roof, but we may approach universal themes in local settings (of both the museum and its collections), and in the universal themes growing out from the particularity of our collections. Kishor K. Basa elucidated how the impressive range of projects dealing with intangible cultural heritage at the Museum of Mankind in Bhopal, may be perceived as India’s contribution to a universal cultural heritage. And, finally, Mathilda Burden suggested a model through which we may evaluate whether an exhibition can truly be regarded as ‘holistic’, and applied this model to the exhibitions at the Stellenbosch Village Museum.
A number of presentations compared approaches to universality, both historically and geographically. Marilena Alivizatou presented a comparative study of approaches to ‘universal heritage’ in three major ethnographic museums, while Darn van Dartel presented the changing styles of presentation at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, asking the question whether the focus on ‘the universal’ is just yet another way stressing the alleged ‘Western superiority’. Indeed, one may question if it is possible to talk about a universalistic approach at all, given the many different perspectives on ‘what is universal’, which was one of the points of the well coined critical presentation by Mille Gabriel.
This critical approach to universality was to some extend backed up by Victoria Phiri’s presentation of the development of new exhibitions at the Livingston Museum in Zambia. While the universalistic approach is often seen in opposition to orientations towards national history and identity, this presentation showed us how important a national approach has been in overcoming the colonial focus on ethnic differences.
Four presentations suggested in more general terms how we may deal with ethnographic objects and collections in the future. Nicolette Prince approached collections from people of the North American Plateau region as one large collection scattered over several museums, showing how digitalisation of museum collections may enable us to trespass the idea of individual collections. Zvjezdana Antos presented different uses of ethnographic film in the presentation of cultural heritage, and Yang Jongsung showed us how the National Museum of Korean Folk Life have applied digital media to document intangible cultural heritage. Seong Eun Kim analysed how the Pitt Rivers Museum has engaged with artists, allowing them to intervene in the otherwise unchanged displays of the museum, to create counter-images to the revered exhibitions of the Pitt Rivers.
On the last day of the sessions, ICME had arranged a workshop on Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights. The presentations by Martin Skrydstrup on WIPO, Daniel Winfree Papuga on ICME’s continued engagement in the field of intellectual property, and Leif Parellis on his own experiences working with Sámi, stressed how important it is that ICME continues its engament in these debates, since this have been one of the areas, where we have really succeeded in pushing the debate on an ICOM level.
It’s not really an easy task to come up with a concise conclusion on a long and diverse list of presentations, as we witnessed in Vienna. Anyway, I will dare an eye and make some final remarks on the overarching theme of the conference, universality.
A group of some fifteen ICME members started out on Saturday, 25th of August to join in the post-conference tour organized by Matthias Beitl (Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art) in collaboration with Wolfgang Gürtler (County Museum of Burgenland) to discover the easternmost and least populous land of Austria’s federal republic. It became part of the present Austrian Republic in the 1920s after having been part of the Hungarian Kingdom in the Double Monarchy.
At the time of the Monarchy most of the property was owned by some noble families for example the Batthyánys or the Esterházys, people worked on their huge domains living very modestly. Built on the top of a small mountain and overlooking the plain, the castle of Forchtenstein was one of the fortresses against the Turkish invasions held by the Esterházy family and is now a museum. In a rather conventional set-up it retraces the history of this important family which has reinvented themselves with a genealogy reaching as far back as Adam and Eve, and ordering portraits of non existent relatives to enrich the lineage of the family’s ancestors.
Due to the lack of private property and later on handicapped by its isolation by the Iron Curtain (borders to former Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia), the region was poor and underdeveloped. Many people had to emigrate, either far away to the US (Chicago is said to be the “biggest town of Burgenland”) or to Vienna, where they worked principally on construction sites as bricklayers. Even today they are well-known as chimney builders all over the world. A very interesting, well done and didactical museum in Neutal is dedicated to this profession. The museum based on a concept of Susanna Steiger-Moser is principally staffed by local people who themselves, or whose relatives, had worked in the construction business. An archive brings together a wide range of tools and objects related to this activity in the form of an open stack room.
The Dorfmuseum in Mönchhof offers a more nostalgic look backward. It was created by a bricklayer who collected over the course of some twenty years everything his fellow village people threw away. Arranged in houses, either transferred from their original situation or built by the collector himself, he created an “archetypical” village with its craftsmen shops, its school, cinema, church, inn and farmhouses. Attracting a large number of visitors to this charming place it seems difficult – and even unnecessary – to insist on a more “scientific” or purist approach, an opinion confirmed by several museums awards given to the Dorfmuseum. The lively evocation of a not so distant past is accompanied by serious ethnographical work, provided by students from the Vienna University who participate in the inventory of the huge number of objects collected by the tireless Family Haubenwallner.
The borderline situation of the Burgenland has always inspired artists to settle down in this plain country foreshadowing the Hungarian Puszta, as they did the way in another former border region in the North of Austria, the Waldviertel. In 1959 Karl Prantl founded an international symposium for sculptors in the Roman quarry of St. Margarethen. The art works resulting of these meetings are dispersed on a hill so that they seem to be part of the landscape. A walk from the concrete building, combining Japanese and monastic influences and housing the members of the workshop, up the hill in company of a young artist participating in the actual work-shop was a very special experience. A look down in the quarry allowed also a glimpse on the scenery for a yearly summer opera festival, a scenery which is also part of the Passion of Christ performed by the local village people and taking place every five years. Other artists like Robert Schneider and Evelyn Lehner carry on the pottery tradition as well as that of hospitality, welcoming the group to their workshop and home.
Another very pleasant stop was the Cselly mill in Oslip. Opened in the late 1970’s it is now a place combining alternative forms of culture with more classical ones, as we could see – or better hear – assisting to a short concert of young musicians. It is fascinating to notice that this place could become an internationally known cultural institution despite its location in a small village, quite far away from any urban center.
Aside from the artists who took part in the evolution of this part of Austria there were also two other major factors influencing its destiny.
The regional museum in Eisenstadt offered a good overview of the region’s history and present and in a special exhibition on the Neusiedlersee, a lake between Hungary and Austria and the biggest lake without natural outflow in Europe. It was the place where local people got fish and reed before becoming an attractive tourist place especially for Viennese and a natural reserve.
Burgenland is also characterized by its minorities. Hungarian- and Croatian-speaking people are part of it as well as Roma. The Jewish community has nearly disappeared in the cataclysm of World War 2. A small museum with a synagogue and the old cemetery are testament to their former presence in Eisenstadt.
Thanks to the diversified program by Matthias Beitl, the detailed explanations of Wolfgang Gürtler and Veronika Plöckinger and – last but not least – wonderful weather and great food and wine, Burgenland can be sure to have won new fans from Israel to the Netherlands, and from Spain to Norway, including Denmark, Romania and France.
The AVICOM (International committee of museums promoting audiovisuals, new images and sound technologies,
Three papers of the New technologies and universal heritage part promoted three different possibilities of education concerning the audiovisual contents and technologies in the museum. Canadian professor Eric Langlois has established a university programme in Quebec, called Cyber-Museology (held in French). Alexandra Bunia presented the study Museums and new technologies at University of the Aegean (held in Greek). Karina Rebeca Durand Velasco leads educational courses for museum workers in Latin America. One of the themes is devoted to audiovisual contents and technologies while others cover a holistic image of museum, marketing and advertising of the museum, and museum friends (held in Spanish).
Canadians (Lyse Cyr, Vincenc Renaud) and Australians (Timothy Heart) acknowledged us with two cases of three-dimensional presentations. Due to enormous distances and scarce settlements of Canada they designed a three-dimensional interactive project Canadian Parks, which virtually presents Canadian natural and cultural heritage, ethnological communities and also women, important for their history (www.pc.gc.ca/3d). In Melbourne’s Museum Victoria they even designed a special virtual room. A visitor enters the place and virtually moves across the virtual space using a special console. Their technology enables the visitor to be really absorbed by the contents, either these are records of existing ancient temples or virtual dinosaurs ([ www.museum.vic.gov.au/infosheets/11137.pdf
Museum of Albert Kahn in Paris keeps a rich collection of photographs and films, shot by banker Kahn (one of the pioneers in the field of visual
Nadja Valentincic Furlan, a curator of ethnographic film at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia, reported how they have applied audiovisual media at the first part of their permanent exhibition
- to enhance knowledge bound to exhibited cultural heritage, bringing the information the museum object itself can not reveal (the so called complementary information may cover the making and the function of the object, its users and its meaning, and also the mode of its treatment in the museum),
- to present the heritage not kept by the museum, either this is non-movable material heritage, such as buildings and types of settlement or intangible heritage, such as music, dances and narrations,
- to reconstruct lifestyle of the ancestors from eras with scarce material, written and pictorial evidence, thus enabling the visitor to better understand the past, which of course clears the context of the exhibition,
- introductory film functions also as “rite de passage” preparing a visitor for the exhibition.
Papers of the first day mostly reported on possibilities of education dealing with the audiovisual sphere in the museums and about application of AV contents and new technologies in the museums to widen the accessibility of the heritage, and in some cases also to engage people’s senses in new ways. The virtual trends above all address young people inviting them to visit the (virtual) museum. We have been told that in Italy they are even going to establish a museum in virtual application Second Life.
Plenary session on the future of audiovisual and multimedia in museums revealed, that there exist two rather opposed points of view. On one side there are people, who stress the media and try to follow the latest visual interactive three-dimensional trends, because they believe, young people would not go to the classical museum at all. They quote the importance of senses and experience studying psychology of net users and interactive games, so they could integrate that knowledge into the presentations of museum contents. On the other hand are traditional museum workers, who repeat that the contents, concept and aim of any application should be above the medium and that we are not to forget the social, psychological and ethic point of view. They see media as a means of two-way communication with visitors. The undersigned believes that the contents define the form, but she is of course very much aware, that the future is the synergy of both points of view.
The second day the president of AVICOM Marie-Francoise Delval invited representatives of museums, whose products were awarded in Fi@mp.2006 ([ www.unesco.org/webworld/avicom/
Stephane Bezombes and Christine Hemmet presented Museum Quai Branly from Paris ([ www.quaibranly.fr/en/accueil/index.html
The awarded museum’s web pages and museums itself were presented by Lin Mun Lee, a director of Taiwan National Palace Museum (http://www.npm.gov.tw/en/home.htm), Rainer Hubert, director of Mediatheke of Technickes museum in Vienna (http://www.tmw.ac.at/), Wendy Thomas, project leader of Heritage Canada, and a member of a project of virtual museum (http://www.tipatshimuna.ca) on Innu people Kanani Panashue, herself an Innu.
The partners of the last mentioned website underlined cooperation with members of Innu people: Innus were asked the permission that their intellectual heritage is being presented in the website, they cooperated in recording the narratives, and the images were drawn by an Innu artist.
Best CDs and DVDs in 2006 were done by Hungarians - the awards went to Museum of Literature Petrofi (http://www.pim.hu/index1.ivy) for Awakening and to Ethnographic museum Budapest
Madame Delval invited director Gilles Baud-Bertier, to explain the concept and the aim of the awarded film on Albert Kahn, but we have seen no visuals, which was true also about some other awarded programmes. Even at Thursday’s FIAMP 2006 Awards Ceremony only two-minute excerpts were shown.
I’ve added web addresses of institutions mentioned to enable the readers to make contacts and also to get an insight into the state of audiovisual culture in the museums and on their web expositions. I conclude with a Rainer Hubert paraphrase: »What is today not available on the web that does not exist«.
Nadja Valentincic Furlan
November 9-10 2007, “Image as Embodiment: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives”, The Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK www.sru.uea.ac.uk/embodiment-workshop-nov07.php
Nov 28–Dec 2, 2007, “Difference, (In)equality & Justice.”, AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION, 106th annual meeting, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington DC. Contact: AAA Meetings Dept, 2200 Wilson Blvd, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201; tel 703/ 528-1902 ext 3025; firstname.lastname@example.org
December 14 2007, "Extreme Collecting", a series of four workshops taking place between December 2007 and April 2008, organised by University
18-20 February 2008, “NaMu IV: Comparing - national museums, territories,
Mar 19–23, 2008, “Consciousness and Spirit”, SOCIETY FOR THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF CONCIOUSNESS, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT. For information, see [ www.sacaaa.org/sacmeetings.htm ]www.sacaaa.org/sacmeetings.htm
Mar 25–29, 2008, “The Public Sphere and Engaged Scholarship: Challenges and Opportunities for Applied Anthropology”, SOCIETY FOR APPLIED ANTHROPOLOGY, annual meeting, Memphis, Tennessee. For information, see [ www.sfaa.net ]www.sfaa.net
Apr 3–5, 2008 AMERICAN ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY AND SOCIETY FOR THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF NORTH AMERICA, Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, Wrightsville Beach, NC. For information, see [ www.aesonline.org ]www.aesonline.org/ or [ sananet.org ]http://sananet.org/.
June 16-20, 2008 , “Transcending ‘European Heritages’: Liberating the Ethnological Imagination”, 2008 International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) meetings will be held on the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster in Derry, Northern Ireland, www.arts.ulster.ac.uk/sief2008/docs/sief2008_firstcall.pdf
July 15-23 2008, “Humanity, Development and Cultural Diversity”, The 16th World Congress, The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Kunming, China.
MUSEUMS AND REFUGEES, Museum in Docklands, London, 13-14 March 2008 End of call date: 17 October 2007
How do museums and more broadly the heritage sector engage with refugees and asylum seekers and the increased global focus on forced migration?
The conference aims to explore how museums and other heritage agencies are responding to complex ethical, legal, social and political issues. How can museums inform debate and, given recent trends in immigration and asylum polices, highlight international and national obligations to protect people from persecution?
These issues impact on the work practices of museums in terms of curatorial decisions, collecting strategies, partnerships, approaches to programming, as well as shared decision making in collaborative exhibitions and public events. Are museums agents and forums of cultural change or do they reflect social change? Is there a new role for museums in terms of cultural facilitation and mediation? Should museums be more proactive as places for cross-cultural exchange and developing understanding between 'new' communities and peoples of diverse backgrounds? Are there appropriate ethical codes of practice in place to facilitate these new agendas?
We invite a range of papers that might be prompted by these questions as well as the three strands of the conference:
1. Giving voice: the museological agenda
- what are the current museological strategies to record, engage and reflect diverse tangible and intangible heritage?
- what resources and expertise can museums offer to and exchange with individuals and community groups and in turn serve as a counterpoint to the dominant discourses?
- to what extent do current practices inform museological policies, practices and long term agendas for working with refugee and asylum seeker groups?
- how can social capital be an effective means of to measure museums'
- can museums be effective forums for bridging and encouraging cross-cultural discussions, debate, understanding and active participation
- where does the work of museums sit with political and social policies on measuring social impact, eg in terms of regeneration, social cohesion?
- can we ensure that notions of citizenship and values are not used to promote the cultural values of a more dominant group over another?
3. Innovation and research
- how can museums and heritage agencies be more creative and innovative in addressing these issues?
- how can museums develop more flexible spaces to present plural perspectives of groups and their histories and heritage (tangible and intangible)?
- how can museums work better with refugee and asylum seek groups, universities and other agencies as a knowledge base and communicate these issues to the public.
Please send abstracts and/or proposals to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org by 17 October 2007. Responses to abstracts will be by 1 December 2007.
A selection of papers will be published in the Museums and Diversity series, which is published by UNESCO.
'MUSEUM ETHNOGRAPHY AT HOME'
Museum Ethnographers' Group Annual UK Conference 2008, Thursday and Friday 10-11 April 2008, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.
Museums of anthropology are supposed to be fascinated by 'the other', the material culture of exotic cultures and remote places, far from the site of the museums. However, the Pitt Rivers Museum is not the only UK ethnographic museum which actually has large ethnographic and archaeological collections from its own country.
This conference will explore the many aspects of museum ethnography at home. It is hoped that participants will explore this theme as widely as possible and it is anticipated that not all of the 'homes' that will be explored will be English or British. Papers might consider the kind of issues that arise when carrying out ethnographic research in a home country or else look at historic research or historic collections of 'home' material.
It is hoped that one of the sessions will be led by Chris Gosden, Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford University, who is currently the leader of an ESRC-funded 3 year research project looking into precisely these issues regarding the large English collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum. Other sessions may focus on other museums and collections.
In addition, a 'work in progress' session is planned for up-to-date information on current and on-going projects, this may relate to any field of museum ethnography not just this year's conference theme (informal 5-10 minute presentations are required).
Papers from the conference may be considered for publication in the Journal of Museum Ethnography published annual by the Group.
For further information or to propose papers or sessions contact:
Alison Petch, Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PP, United Kingdom
Tel: [+44] 1865 613007 Email: email@example.com
The closing date for submissions and abstracts is Friday 1 February 2008.
October 2nd 2007 – April 30th 2008, Ethnographic museum in Zagreb, Croatia
Websites of interest
museumanthropology.blogspot.com/Museum Anthropology This Weblog is an Online Supplement to Museum Anthropology, The Journal of the Council for Museum Anthropology. Museum Anthropology is published twice a year by the Council for Museum Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association, in partnership with the University of California Press. Museum Anthropology publishes articles, commentary, review articles, exhibition and book reviews, and research notes relevant to museum anthropology and the study of material culture.
I would like to open my first remark as editor of the ICME newsletter by acknowledging the major work put into the newsletter by my predecessor Viv Golding. Browsing through former newsletter I’m struck by the range of information and articles included. I hope that, with the collaboration of the new board, I will be able to keep the newsletter as vibrant and relevant as it has been up till now.
As you probably all know the ICME newsletter has been distributed as a simple text message, as well as being published on the ICME website. We wish to continue this practice, but have to make an exception for this issue. Right now we are working on changing the website, which will take a little while. But hopefully it will be up and running for the next newsletter which will be issued around New Year. Therefore, this newsletter can not be found on the website before the new version is ready.
For the same reason, the online publication of the papers presented at the ICME sessions in Vienna will also have to wait. I will use the occasion, though, to ask all contributors at the Vienna-sessions to send a text version of their paper, including relevant photos, to me (see address below). Hopefully we will be able to present a large selection of the papers on the ICME website in the beginning of 2008.
Finally, I will encourage all subscribers to the newsletter to send suggestions for improvements of the newsletter. As you may know, a relatively large board was elected at the conference in Vienna. We intend to take advantage of this, asking board members for reports on regional and thematic issues. But we may also consider running a more formalised debate evolving around recurrent themes as property issues, new trends in exhibitions, theoretical debates, the current politics of ethnographic museums – or whatever you may be interested in! So please voice your wishes so that the newsletter can reflect our common concerns and interests.
The deadline for the next issue is 21st December 2007. Please send news and contributions to: