Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology

Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology The Smithsonian Institution Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) trains graduate students to use museum collections in anthropological research.
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The Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is a research training program offered by the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The program seeks to promote broader and more effective use of museum collections in anthropological research by providing a supplement to university training. Each summer SIMA supports 10-12 graduate studen

The Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is a research training program offered by the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. The program seeks to promote broader and more effective use of museum collections in anthropological research by providing a supplement to university training. Each summer SIMA supports 10-12 graduate studen

Operating as usual

A new book - Mobile Museums: Collections in circulation Edited by Felix Driver, Mark Nesbitt, and Caroline Cornish - is ...
04/19/2021
Mobile Museums - UCL Press

A new book - Mobile Museums: Collections in circulation Edited by Felix Driver, Mark Nesbitt, and Caroline Cornish - is out and open access, and will be of interest. “Mobile Museums presents an argument for the importance of circulation in the study of museum collections, past and present. It brings together an impressive array of international scholars and curators from a wide variety of disciplines – including the history of science, museum anthropology and postcolonial history - to consider the mobility of collections. The book combines historical perspectives on the circulation of museum objects in the past with contemporary accounts of their re-mobilisation, notably in the context of Indigenous community engagement. Contributors seek to explore processes of circulation historically in order to re-examine, inform and unsettle common assumptions about the way museum collections have evolved over time and through space.”

There is a great chapter by SIMA alum Catherine Nicols (Illustrating anthropological knowledge: texts, images and duplicate specimens at the Smithsonian Institution and Pitt Rivers Museum) and another by SIMA Director Joshua Bell (Circuits of accumulation and loss: intersecting natural histories of the 1928 USDA New Guinea Sugarcane Expedition’s collections).

https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/141630?fbclid=IwAR2MPI2895zFcKMysKWQNR93n23dOCOBcjNLdwzRF2ZujiyM4koDqzZoEj0#

Mobile Museums presents an argument for the importance of circulation in the study of museum collections, past and present. It brings together an impressive array of international scholars and curators from a wide variety of disciplines – including the history of science, museum anthropology and p...

Wonderful new podcast - Exhibiting Kinship which “looks to teach, learn and evole the old museum ways” hosted by Felicia...
03/05/2021
Hear This

Wonderful new podcast - Exhibiting Kinship which “looks to teach, learn and evole the old museum ways” hosted by Felicia Garcia (Chumash) and Meranda Roberts (Northern Paiute).

“Garcia is the curator of education at local arts, research and education institution the School for Advanced Research, while Roberts holds a position as a postdoctoral research scientist at the Field Museum in Chicago.”

Episode 2 features SIMA alum Nina Sanders (Apsáalooke), a Field Museum curator, senior research fellow at the University of Chicago and guest curator at Santa Fe's Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts.

https://www.sfreporter.com/arts/2021/03/03/hear-this/?utm_source=Santa+Fe+Reporter+List&utm_campaign=ac5a753eb5-WEDNESDAY_NEWSLETTER_2018_08_15_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b77a98714b-ac5a753eb5-60487309&mc_cid=ac5a753eb5&mc_eid=d4ee0a793a&fbclid=IwAR2hbbb7NBv-f9q0qnva68HS95qKHulXCdQ_rfHzV5gQ6UV9OdNpVcG3c0M

Exhibiting Kinship podcast looks to teach, learn and evolve the old museum ways

6th annual Mother Tongue Film Festival is virtual this year - from Feb. 21-May 31st - 45 films in 39 languages from 26 r...
02/12/2021
Smithsonian Presents the Mother Tongue Film Festival, “The Healing Power of Storytelling”

6th annual Mother Tongue Film Festival is virtual this year - from Feb. 21-May 31st - 45 films in 39 languages from 26 regions across the globe.

https://www.si.edu/newsdesk/releases/smithsonian-presents-mother-tongue-film-festival-healing-power-storytelling

The Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices initiative will host a monthly film-screening series highlighting the crucial role languages play in daily life. Presented virtually this year, the sixth annual Mother Tongue Film Festival features 45 films in 39 languages from regions across the globe. Through ...

02/08/2021

Great opportunity for folks.

This is a belated congratulations to SIMA faculty fellow alum Andy Bickford for his new book Chemical Heroes: Pharmacolo...
02/07/2021
Duke University Press - Chemical Heroes

This is a belated congratulations to SIMA faculty fellow alum Andy Bickford for his new book Chemical Heroes: Pharmacological Supersoldiers in the US Military. Bickford “analyzes the US military's attempts to design performance enhancement technologies and create pharmacological "supersoldiers" capable of withstanding extreme trauma. Bickford traces the deep history of efforts to biologically fortify and extend the health and lethal power of soldiers from the Cold War era into the twenty-first century, from early adoptions of mandatory immunizations to bio-protective gear, to the development and spread of new performance enhancing drugs during the global War on Terrorism. In his examination of government efforts to alter soldiers' bodies through new technologies, Bickford invites us to contemplate what constitutes heroism when armor becomes built in, wired in, and even edited into the molecular being of an American soldier. Lurking in the background and dark recesses of all US military enhancement research, Bickford demonstrates, is the desire to preserve US military and imperial power.”

https://www.dukeupress.edu/chemical-heroes

SubjectsAnthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology In Chemical Heroes Andrew Bickford analyzes the US military's attempts to design performance enhancement technologies and create pharmacological "supersoldiers" capable of withstanding extreme trauma. Bickford tr...

SIMA alum and Peter Buck Postdoctoral fellow Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Dr. Sowparnika Balaswamina...
01/19/2021
January Event Registration

SIMA alum and Peter Buck Postdoctoral fellow Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Dr. Sowparnika Balaswaminathan is giving the keynote “Blood, Sweat, and Gods: The Moral Economies of Smuggling under Extractive Capitalism” on January 26 alongside several other papers - details below.

https://agic-concordia.ca/jan-register/?fbclid=IwAR1WJ_UnqwJg6oUq0-VksJrM_M0_AhJbvM-koWuvfn-4GKDWgy8u_G2rMbs

THE TRAFFIC IN OBJECTS January 26, 6-8pm EST Register here. The 26th Annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference is pleased to present THE TRAFFIC IN OBJECTS, inaugurating the Con-tact virtual lec…

After much consideration SIMA will be postponed until the summer of 2022. This was not an easy decision. But given the r...
12/15/2020

After much consideration SIMA will be postponed until the summer of 2022. This was not an easy decision. But given the realities of the upsurge of covid cases in the US, the uncertainty of the forecast for this spring/summer and what this means for the re-opening of Smithsonian museums, this is the best way forward. SIMA is and always will be an “in person” experience that involves participants direct access to collections and a variety of experts.

At the moment, we are working on plans for a virtual series of seminars focused on the methods and theories of working with museum collections. In this small way we hope to provide some productive spaces for graduate students, faculty and the general public interested in collections based work. We will announce our plans as they evolve.

In the meantime, I hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy.

Joshua A. Bell, Director of SIMA
(Image - Aea plaits an akeke voa’a with a diamond pattern in the Purari Delta. Photo by JA Bell, 2010)

For those of you who have been part of SIMA you will familiar with exploding objects taught by Joshua Bell - here is a l...
07/26/2020
Webinar: Exploding Objects – Teaching with Everyday Things | Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

For those of you who have been part of SIMA you will familiar with exploding objects taught by Joshua Bell - here is a link to a webinar he did with colleagues Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History entitled “💥 Objects – Teaching with Everyday Things” - we 💥 🧻, 🥣 & 🦷 paste to think about our 🌏 interconnections through things many people use everyday:

https://naturalhistory.si.edu/education/professional-development/webinar-exploding-objects-teaching-everyday-things

In this video, Joshua Bell explains the teaching technique of exploding objects to think about their materials, makers, and processes.

07/25/2020

Great profile of Senior Film Archivist Pam Wintle who works Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History’s National Anthropological Archives - in this video she talks about her work caring for films of Jorge Preloran: https://youtu.be/t8HGYyvtW6I

In addition to congratulating all SIMA alum who have graduated this spring - SIMA wanted to share that SIMA alum Emily B...
05/11/2020

In addition to congratulating all SIMA alum who have graduated this spring - SIMA wanted to share that SIMA alum Emily Buhrow Rogers successfully defended her dissertation this month. Long-term SIMA visiting faculty Jason Jackson (Emily's co-chair) reports that "Emily did wonderfully during the defense. Her dissertation is an important contribution both to the anthropology of making and to understanding Choctaw lifeways today. Her SIMA friends all knew that she was an adept collections researcher. "Choctaw Arts and the Meaning of Making" reveals her to be an engaged and sensitive ethnographer as well." Pictured in the attached image are members of Emily's committee Anya Peterson Royce,
Eduardo Brondizio, Pravina Shukla and Jason Jackson, as well as Dr. Emily Buhrow Rogers.

Below is a summary of Emily's defense, and dissertation.

Choctaw Arts and the Meaning of Making
Drawing upon twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork with members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, I present the many methods and meanings that animate the production of Choctaw arts. I offer my perspective on what I learned from weavers, sewers, beaders, and carvers about how they go about creating items of material culture—many of which they consider to be traditional expressions of community and social life. I provide an exploration of some of the myriad ways that the makers with whom I worked approached and shaped their projects. While each of their beliefs and experiences were unique and personal, the many themes and commonalities they shared provide the basis for this dissertation and its structure.

By focusing on process, I center Choctaw makers’ beliefs about making within the realm of what is possible, and what they and their community deem socially valuable and meaningful. In my examination of material gathering processes, I demonstrate how makers are advocates for their materials, and that overcoming significant barriers to accessing these materials is a fundamental task that any maker must take on, regardless of the material forms that they seek to construct. I also focus on the makers themselves, highlighting the unique combination of group and personal factors that are conducive to an individual’s emergence as an creator of a particular art genre. Moreover, I center the role that a maker’s personal creativity, style, and innovation plays in material culture change through time. Lastly, I contextualize making practices as actions that are generative of, and generated by, the important individual, communal, and intergenerational rhythms of Choctaw life.

04/07/2020

Due to unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, SIMA has been cancelled for summer 2020, but will reboot in summer 2021.

The Smithsonian’s Office of Fellowships and Internships announced that no new onsite internships and fellowships can begin until August 15th. Following these guidelines, The National Museum of Natural History has cancelled all its summer programs. While they are allowing for virtual internships/fellowships on a case by case basis, there is no way that we can conduct SIMA virtually. Added to this all of the Smithsonian Institution museums are currently closed and all public programs cancelled through June 1.

We are extending all student acceptances for 2020 to 2021.

Be safe and stay healthy.

Very proud to see this wonderful exhibit coming out through hard work of SIMA alum Nina Sanders and others!
03/10/2020
School for Advanced Research

Very proud to see this wonderful exhibit coming out through hard work of SIMA alum Nina Sanders and others!

Nina Sanders, former Anne Ray intern at SAR, on the upcoming exhibit at the Field Museum, “What we create here is going to reshape the way that cultural institutions and communities work together, how exhibitions are constructed, and who gets to educate the public about Native American culture.”

SIMA 2020 Application Deadline ReminderThanks to the many who have expressed interest in this year’s SIMA program. This ...
02/19/2020

SIMA 2020 Application Deadline Reminder
Thanks to the many who have expressed interest in this year’s SIMA program. This is a reminder that the deadline for applications is approaching. SIMA is a graduate student training program in museum research methods offered through the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Students participate in seminars and hands-on workshops at the museum and at an off-site collections facility, learning to navigate museum systems and select methods for examination and analysis of museum specimens while collecting data for a project of their choice.
WHO: Graduate students interested in using museum collections as data.
DATES: Applications due MARCH 1, 2020. SIMA 2020 dates will be June 15 – July 10.
COST: The program covers tuition and the cost of shared apartment housing. A stipend of $1500 will be provided to assist with the cost of food and other local expenses. Participants are individually responsible for travel costs.
ELIGIBILITY: Students studying anthropology or related interdisciplinary programs at the M.A. and doctoral levels are considered for acceptance. All U.S. graduate students are eligible for acceptance, even if studying abroad. International students can be considered if they are enrolled in a university in the U.S.A. NOTE: Canadian First Nation members are eligible under treaty agreements. For more information and to apply, please visit https://naturalhistory.si.edu/research/anthropology/programs/summer-institute-museum-anthropology
Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions.

We are pleased to introduce the SIMA 2020 Guest Faculty and welcome them to the program! Please check out their bios bel...
02/03/2020

We are pleased to introduce the SIMA 2020 Guest Faculty and welcome them to the program! Please check out their bios below.

SIMA 2020 Call for ApplicationsWe are now accepting proposals from prospective graduate student participants for the 202...
01/14/2020

SIMA 2020 Call for Applications

We are now accepting proposals from prospective graduate student participants for the 2020 Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA).

SIMA is a graduate student summer training program in museum research methods offered through the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History with major funding from the Cultural Anthropology Program of the National Science Foundation. Summer 2020 dates are June 15 - July 10.
During four weeks of intensive training in seminars and hands-on workshops at the museum and an off-site collections facility, students are introduced to the scope of collections and their potential as data. Students become acquainted with strategies for navigating museum systems, learn to select methods to examine and analyze museum specimens, and consider a range of theoretical issues that collections-based research may address. In consultation with faculty, each student carries out preliminary data collection on a topic of their own choice and develops a prospectus for research to be implemented upon return to their home university. Instruction will be provided by Smithsonian scholars and guest faculty (to be announced).

Who should apply?

Graduate students preparing for research careers in cultural anthropology who are interested in using museum collections as a data source. The program is not designed to serve students seeking careers in museum management. Students at both the masters and doctoral level will be considered for acceptance. Students in related interdisciplinary programs (Indigenous Studies, Folklore, etc.) are welcome to apply if the proposed project is anthropological in nature. All U.S. students are eligible for acceptance, even if studying abroad. International students can be considered only if they are enrolled in a university in the U.S. Canadian First Nation members are eligible under treaty agreements.

Costs: The program covers students’ tuition and shared housing in local furnished apartments. A small stipend will be provided to assist with the cost of food and other local expenses. Participants are individually responsible for the cost of travel to and from Washington, DC.

Application deadline - March 1, 2020
SIMA dates for 2020: June 15- July 10

For more information and to apply, please visit https://naturalhistory.si.edu/research/anthropology/programs/summer-institute-museum-anthropology

Additional questions? Want to discuss a project proposal? Email [email protected]

SIMA Director Joshua Bell has a new piece entitled -  "Check Out That Gold-Plated Board!" Scrapping Cellphones and Elect...
12/19/2019

SIMA Director Joshua Bell has a new piece entitled - "Check Out That Gold-Plated Board!" Scrapping Cellphones and Electronics in North America - in an edited volume by Elizabeth Ferry, Annabel Vallard and Andrew Walsh and published by University of Toronto Press: https://utorontopress.com/us/the-anthropology-of-precious-minerals-3

THE SIMA LESSON REPOSITORYA Teaching Resource for University EducatorsIn keeping with the goal of the Summer Institute i...
11/19/2019

THE SIMA LESSON REPOSITORY
A Teaching Resource for University Educators

In keeping with the goal of the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology to promote museums as sites of knowledge production, we are pleased to announce the SIMA Lesson Repository hosted by the Smithsonian Libraries: https://repository.si.edu/handle/10088/99087

The SIMA Lesson Repository contains teaching materials that use museum collections for a range of courses in anthropology, museum studies, and related fields. They have been contributed by former SIMA Faculty and SIMA Faculty Fellows who are committed to encouraging greater use of museum collections as a source of information in anthropological research.

Materials range in scope from full syllabi to individual lesson plans and hand-outs. All material posted is freely available for use in developing graduate and undergraduate courses using pedagogical models and methods at the core of the SIMA curriculum.

This is a growing repository- so please check back as more contain will be added.

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