Princeton University Library Catalog

Taking a Closer Look: The Ethics and Implications of the Collection, Curation and Display of Cultural Objects within Museums

Smith, Vanessa [Browse]
Senior thesis
Davis, Elizabeth A. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Anthropology [Browse]
Princeton University. Program in Latin American Studies [Browse]
Class year:
Summary note:
This thesis takes up the task of questioning the role of museums and their relationships with the communities from which they take. I am presenting an ethical and anthropological evaluation of the colonial history of museums and the residual ideologies and hierarchies that permeate the museum space. Employing a critical analysis of the work of museums in the modern age, I encourage a historically conscious understanding of the history of collection and other museums practices. I am interested in putting pressure on our understanding of how museums are organized, the use of the term art, and the application of this term to describe various iterations of cultural objects. I will also examine the tendency of museums to categorizing non-Western peoples and the ideological repercussions of classification. As a form of critique this thesis will draw attention to the ethical implications of cultural representation, read between the lines and lay bare the effects of museum practices, as well as draw a connection between the cultures on display and the contemporary communities that claim their heritage. Ultimately, through this thesis I endeavor to underline the importance of contextualization, historical transparency, and propose the de-centralization of museum authority. This thesis encourages a new and discerning perspective of museums, one that recognizes them as post-colonial social institutions that contribute to our understanding of the world.Key Words: art, artifact, value, imperial, ideology, historical narrative, representation, indigenous