Mod-5-why collect

I have come across this recent article in the Jan 2021 issue of American Antiquity about employing experimental models to interpret old collections.  The authors open with the reason why curators collect.

3 Thoughts to “Why collect?”

  1. Angela Linn

    Thanks Martin. What do you think of their statement? Do you support this view? How might it differ for museums of different materials, for example art museums or children’s museums?

    How do different cultural perspectives come into play in justifying the explanation you shared? The statements “material culture possesses inherent value” and “preserving the past is foundational to understanding humanity’s heritage, diversity, and technological evolution” are culturally-biased in my view. Does everyone view the concept of “the past” in the same way? Do we see technological changes as an evolutionary process where we assume the more modern technology is more “advanced” than those in the past?

    Maybe we can think about this more through the lens of some of our readings and videos. Do you think Joe Watkins, who is an Indigenous archaeologist, might write the same explanation? What about curated objects with contested histories?

    1. Martin Gutoski

      I think Josh might adhere to this archaeological perspective when he collects and curates digs.  Not certain about Watkins with his own cultural bias to beat the drum of prior abuses by the US in the long history of displacement and display of “his” people.  American Antiquity I think is a peer reviewed journal but seems to lean more heavily on statistical analysis with hard numbers to back up the inferences.  Certainly the opening statement by the author seems to be open enough with the diversity lip service.
      I’ve seen episodes of the show in which Joe Watkins is one of the archaeologists who comments on the PBS digs featured in Time Team America and his video doesn’t have much variance from the opening statement in the AA piece. https://www.pbs.org/time-team/meet-the-team/joe-watkins/

  2. Barbara Long

    Hello All,
    The statements “material culture possesses inherent value” and “preserving the past is foundational to understanding humanity’s heritage, diversity, and technological evolution” are culturally-biased in my view. Does everyone view the concept of “the past” in the same way?
    Oh my gosh, this is a great post. Angela, I agree with you. No, I believe that we all have different perspectives for viewing the concepts of the “Past,” This can include bias views that have developed overtime through ones own culture. Bias is within us all. Our experiences and life-ways along with culture and environment effects how we view the world past and present as well as, its associated materials. Thanks for sharing.
    Respectfully,
    Barbara

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