Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology

Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology The Smithsonian Institution Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) trains graduate students t
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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

ts who want to use collections in their research. Using Smithsonian collections, experts, and visiting faculty, SIMA:

• introduces students to the scope of collections and their potential as data
• provides training in appropriate methods to collect and analyze museum data
• makes participants aware of a range of theoretical issues relating to collections
• positions students to apply their knowledge within their home university

The curriculum, including both seminars and hands-on workshops, teaches students how to navigate museum systems, select methods to examine and analyze museum specimens, and recognize the wealth of theoretical issues that museum data can address. For more information on SIMA visit: http://anthropology.si.edu/summerinstitute

We hope you’ll contribute to this interactive forum and to our ongoing conversation about the work we do to further the Smithsonian's mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. SIMA is supported by a series of grants from the Cultural Anthropology Program of the National Science Foundation under the following grant numbers: BCS1424029, BCS1127060, BCS1039499, BCS0852511, BCS0806775

While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner and treat other users with respect. The Smithsonian also monitors and may remove posts consistent with its terms of use, as described at http://si.edu/Termsofuse -gen.

SIMA 2023 is a wrap! 12th year of the ongoing program funded by the NSF with support from Smithsonian National Museum of...
07/18/2023

SIMA 2023 is a wrap! 12th year of the ongoing program funded by the NSF with support from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: 11 research interns, 5 collections & archives interns, 2 faculty fellows, 3 visiting faculty and 7 lecturers. Folks came from 17 public and private universities from the US, Canada and Australia.

Faculty fellow JESSICA FALCONE (Kansas State University) and visiting faculty JILDA ANDREWS (National Museum of Australi...
07/17/2023

Faculty fellow JESSICA FALCONE (Kansas State University) and visiting faculty JILDA ANDREWS (National Museum of Australia, Australian National University) were discussants at the end of the second day and gave useful advice about further directions for the presenters

The last presentation on the 14th was by Madeline Strait, PhD Student, Linguistics, University of California Berkeley. H...
07/17/2023

The last presentation on the 14th was by Madeline Strait, PhD Student, Linguistics, University of California Berkeley. Her title and abstract are as follows:

THINKING THROUGH LINGUISTIC HERITAGE MATERIALS IN MUSEUMS

In 1899, the United States National Museum accessioned a collection of material from California gathered by John W. Hudson consisting of over 300 ethnological items as well as ancillary materials in the form of his field notes, catalogs, and correspondence. In addition to collecting physical objects, Hudson had a keen interest in the local Indigenous languages he was encountering, and his notes contain words for certain plant types, basketry styles, and other linguistic miscellanea. Thus, this collection offers a unique opportunity to explore the significance of linguistic heritage materials in museum collections. Using frameworks developed by visual anthropologists, critical heritage scholars, and the decolonization movement, I seek to recognize the ways in which this particular iteration of intangible heritage can be understood through contemporary museological theory and praxis, while also demonstrating the ways in which it offers critical interventions into these frameworks.

The third talk on the 14th was by Tariq Adely, PhD Student, Anthropology, George Washington University. His presentation...
07/17/2023

The third talk on the 14th was by Tariq Adely, PhD Student, Anthropology, George Washington University. His presentation title and abstract are 👇🏽

MAKING LANGUAGE MATERIAL: AN ANALYSIS OF 19TH C. ARABIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM THE LEVANT

This presentation asks how engagement with objects offers a way to theorize writing as a material entity. By focusing on Arabic-language engravings and inscriptive devices, such as those collected in Palestine and Syria by reverend, writer, and bible archaeologist George W. Samson during the mid-19th century, I consider how writing is shaped by the properties of the object on which it is affixed and how written language animates objects. In doing so, I dwell on questions related to form and content as well as writing as a craft, sign, and citation. I then turn attention to the bodies of text in which these objects are embedded—including exhibition catalogs, collection databases, and bible archaeology scholarship— to trace what kinds of representational work these engravings and writing devices have been called upon to carry out. Through this dual line of inquiry, I aim to show how collections might serve as a site from which to think about language as inextricably material and representational.

The third presentation on the 14th was by Amanda Althoff, PhD Student, Anthropology, Columbia University. Her title and ...
07/16/2023

The third presentation on the 14th was by Amanda Althoff, PhD Student, Anthropology, Columbia University. Her title and abstract are 👇🏽

HOW TO CARE FOR MAGGOTS - TRACING HUMAN-ANIMAL RELATIONS IN 19TH CENTURY NW ALASKA

The center of this talk is a small ivory button, lovingly carved and worn in a Yup’ik or Iñupiaq community in nineteenth century Western Alaska. The item was collected around 1880 by Edward W. Nelson for the Smithsonian, along with thousands of other artifacts and specimens. Less than an inch long, the fastening in the shape of a larva is one among many ivory buttons in the collection and has not drawn particular attention. However, as this research seeks to explore, this button carries references to the wider assemblage of objects collected at the time in Western Alaska. Drawing on the rich oral archive of Yup’ik and Iñupiaq communities allows us to trace the ripples of nested relations from this small button - relations between flies, caribou, humans, and walrus. It enables us to ask, how do we care for maggots?

The second post of the second day was by Yingchun Xu, PhD Student, Anthropology, Rutgers University. Her title and abstr...
07/15/2023

The second post of the second day was by Yingchun Xu, PhD Student, Anthropology, Rutgers University. Her title and abstract are ⬇️

THE RUBBER WAY: REVEALING THE UNSEEN DISCONNECTION OF HANI/AKHA CULTURAL ROOTS

Through an engagement with every day and ceremonial objects from the Akha people in northern Thailand, a cultural landscape emerges of the Ahka hill tribe that links back to the Hani people in China. Pivotal to revealing this landscape is a “noisy” object that disconnects and dis-positions the components of the cultural roots of these Indigenous people. The rubber tree, an invasive species of the Akha/Hani’s eco-environment representing a symbolic system of materiality and immateriality, helps delve further into the meaning system of the Ahka/Hani cultural revival movement.

The last day of the SIMA 2023 symposium on the 14th started with Cathy McNeese, MA Student, Historical Studies, Southern...
07/15/2023

The last day of the SIMA 2023 symposium on the 14th started with Cathy McNeese, MA Student, Historical Studies, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her title and paper are 👇🏽

ANISHINAABE TWINED BAGS: CORRELATION OF GEOMETRIC ELEMENTS WITH ANISHINAABE COSMOLOGY

Following insights developed by Ruth Phillips’ (1989), Alan Corbiere and Crystal Migwans (2012) and Cory Willmott (2021), this study explores whether basic geometric elements found in Anishinaabe twined bags have consistent correlations with the Upper, Middle and Lower World regions of Anishinaabe cosmology. Due to their use of recognizable cosmological persons, such as Thunderbirds and Underwater Panthers, vertically oriented bags, believed to be the older style provide the basis for associating geometric elements with cosmological regions. By creating lexicon and design field codebooks of geometric elements with cosmological associations, and using quantitative software, this research will test the frequency with which geometric elements occur in predicable relations. I hypothesize that analysis will show horizontally oriented bags, which tend to be purely geometric and believed to have emerged in the mid to late nineteenth century, will frequently employ the elements identified in the lexicon codebook in predictable relations in design fields that represent cosmological regions.

SIMA faculty fellow Jessica Marie Falcone (Kansas State University) gave the following talk based on the work she did wh...
07/14/2023

SIMA faculty fellow Jessica Marie Falcone (Kansas State University) gave the following talk based on the work she did while in residence:

FROM KANNON TO BENZAITEN: AN OBJECT REPORT EXERCISE

As a cultural anthropologist with little experience doing hands-on work in a museum context, I came to SIMA to consider how I might utilize my university’s ethnographic collections in an upcoming museum anthropology course. Drawing on an “Object Report” assignment included in SIMA’s pedagogy collection (on D-Space), from Catherine Nichols of Loyola University Chicago, I engaged with a single object (catalogue item “E154272,” labeled as a “shrine to Kannon”) in the process of testing out this specific assignment on myself. In this presentation, I will both discuss my “object report” findings regarding the zushi (portable shrine)—which include conclusive evidence that the inner figure is not actually a Kannon, but rather a statue of Benzaiten—as well as a reflection on ways that the Nichols’ assignment might be adapted for my own upcoming course.

SIMA faculty Christina Kreps (University of Denver) presented on her work around A.L. Abbott - title and abstract below:...
07/14/2023

SIMA faculty Christina Kreps (University of Denver) presented on her work around A.L. Abbott - title and abstract below:

THE DYAK RUMAH HANTU (“SPIRIT HOUSE”) FROM BORNEO (KALIMANTAN)

In this presentation, I describe my engagement with the Dyak [sic] rumah hantu (“spirit house”) in the NMNH ethnographic collections as an exercise in “speculative” research and museology. According to the card catalog entry, the spirit house was “found” by the American naturalist/explorer W. L. Abbott in 1908 on a riverbank on the edge of the forest in southeast Borneo. The house was said to have been made by Dyaks to place offerings for appeasing forest-dwelling spirits. However, the wooden house appears newly made despite its age and the climatic conditions in which it was found. Nor is there evidence of use such as residue from offerings. Based on the object’s condition, my knowledge of the ephemeral nature of pataho (offering platforms) and the climate of Borneo, I speculate that the house was specially made for Abbott and not just “found” in the forest. Also noted on the catalog card is that the house was displayed in a Smithsonian exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. I imagine the house’s origin story, its journey as a “diasporic” and “ambassadorial” object, and the “matrix of relationships” embedded in its materiality.

We are grateful to the discussants for both sessions - (1) JILDA ANDREWS (National Museum of Australia, Australian Natio...
07/14/2023

We are grateful to the discussants for both sessions -

(1) JILDA ANDREWS (National Museum of Australia, Australian National University) and CANDACE GREENE (Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution),

(2) MARY JO ARNOLDI (Curator Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, NMNH, Smithsonian Institution) and CHRISTINA KREPS (University of Denver)

The final paper of the second session was by David Gowey, PhD Student, Sociocultural Anthropology, Arizona State Univers...
07/14/2023

The final paper of the second session was by David Gowey, PhD Student, Sociocultural Anthropology, Arizona State University. His talk title and abstract are as follows:

ATTRIBUTION AND INDIGENIZATION IN LATE 19TH/EARLY 20TH CENTURY SOUTHERN PHILIPPINE METAL WEAPONS

Between 1902 and 1946, American military officers collected and contributed many objects including weapons, household goods, and clothing from various Philippine peoples to what was then the U.S. National Museum. Among these objects are metal armor pieces and cannons collected from Muslim- majority Moro peoples of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago that were misidentified by their American collectors as Spanish. This project aims to better understand how these objects may have come to be misidentified and the implications of proper identification for the study of trade, conflict, and indigenous manufacturing in a region of the Southern Philippines that was largely not colonized by Spain.

The second paper of the second session was by Samantha Manz, who recently finished a Fulbright at University of British ...
07/14/2023

The second paper of the second session was by Samantha Manz, who recently finished a Fulbright at University of British Columbia and who is a Member Cherokee Nation. Her abstract and title are below.

WOVEN THROUGH TIME
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act that forcibly removed the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Msvkoke to move to Indian Territory (what is currently Oklahoma). As a result of early colonization, assimilation, and violent dispossession, many tsalagi traditions and customs have been lost or interwoven with Euro-American practices. However, tsalagi basketry is an ongoing and contemporary cultural practice, even when faced with environmental and political adversities. Once relocated to Indian Territory, designs stayed consistent with pre-removal, but basket sizes and shapes changed. Handles were added to appeal to white settlers. Weavers began to use an invasive species, honeysuckle root, and weave the vines over a framework of stiff white oak to create baskets. Objects play a key role in storytelling as links between past, present, and future, while reactivating memories and retrieving histories from community members. More than static and inactive objects, these belongings reveal their processes for making and Indigenous ways of knowing through storytelling.

The second session of the morning started with Tiako Djomatchoua Murielle Sandra, PhD Student, French and Italian Studie...
07/14/2023

The second session of the morning started with Tiako Djomatchoua Murielle Sandra, PhD Student, French and Italian Studies, Princeton University. Her title and abstract are below.

BEYOND BEAUTY: SCARIFICATIONS AS TESTAMENTS OF LIFE AND DEATH
Scarifications can be defined as permanent modifications of the body that inscribes on the skin indelible marks, symbols, or designs. From the perspective of Quint (1958), scarifications are an important stylistic element, and an essential aspect of beauty. This overgeneralized conception of scarifications as beautiful is simplistic and overshadows other essential properties and transactions that inform individual’s and community’s relation to the past and to the present, to the living and to the dead, to the visible and to the invisible. Conceiving of scarifications as testaments of life and of death is what motivates comparative studies of Baule and Bamana female masks which display similarity in style, in practices, and in distribution. The first hypothesis of this presentation is : does the meaning of scarifications on female masks take precedence over the scarifications on female faces? Secondly, what politics of memory and remembering can scarification unravel? Lastly, can scarification define and shape worldviews?

The last talk of the first session was by Elaine D. Alexie, PhD Student, Faculty of Native Studies University of Alberta...
07/14/2023

The last talk of the first session was by Elaine D. Alexie, PhD Student, Faculty of Native Studies University of Alberta. Her talk title and abstract are below.

“SHI’KHAIHTAK GIK’YAANILJII, I AM LEARNING”: GWICH’IN SEWING TRADITIONS & SKILL REPATRIATION THROUGH COLLECTIONS BASED RESEARCH

Museum collections can serve as powerful tools for Indigenous peoples to reconnect with their ancestors; and provide space to access knowledge that is embedded within their material culture. Through the process of making, museum collections can also serve as a place to remember deep connections to place and culture. My SIMA project served to explore how visiting with Gwich’in objects can help provide space for knowledge exploration of sewing traditions through my act of making. Through my ‘close looking’ engagement of visiting with my Gwich’in ancestors in the Smithsonian ethnology collection, I share my process of applying experiential and embodied knowledge of beadwork and quilling sewing traditions. As well, how viewing archival material objects evoked memories of land, family and cultural practices in my Gwich’in homelands. Through the sharing of my SIMA experience, this presentation focuses on how museum collections can be utilized as a tool for reconnection; and pathways for healing through cultural knowledge and skill repatriation of Gwich’in sewing, beading and quilling traditions

The second presentation of the morning was by Andrea Marañón Laguna, PhD Student, Anthropology, Indiana University. Her ...
07/14/2023

The second presentation of the morning was by Andrea Marañón Laguna, PhD Student, Anthropology, Indiana University. Her title and abstract are below:

BECOMING MAYA: THE POLITICS OF INDIGENEITY IN U. S. COLLECTIONS
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, a group of archaeologists from the United States conducted excavations in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and dubbed it the “Maya Area”. Simultaneously, they categorized the inhabitants of the regions under the “Maya Indian” umbrella with the purpose of advancing US national commercial and scientific interests in the face of rising European archaeological discoveries. As a consequence, this led to the creation of a Pan-Maya identity and the neglect of each cultural group’s particularities. The aim of this project to trace the social dynamics of the acquisition of the collections of Louis H. Aymé and Arthur P. Rice, two of the largest of their kind at the National Museum of Natural History. Additionally, this project will explore how the collectors produced interpretations of Indigenous, mestizo, and national identities within their industrial and historical contexts.

The SIMA symposium started with Michael Hopper, MA student, Public Archaeology Graduate Studies, University of New Mexic...
07/14/2023

The SIMA symposium started with Michael Hopper, MA student, Public Archaeology Graduate Studies, University of New Mexico, enrolled member of the Oklahoma Osage and Choctaw Nations

OSAGE SHIELDS: BEYOND FUNCTIONALITY
In examining the Osage shields in collections at the Smithsonian Institution I want to explore, from the perspective of an Osage, questions beyond their functionality. Do shields hold spiritual and religious importance to the Osage warrior it was made for? By examining a shield collected by Francis La Flesche and acquired by the U.S. National Museum in 1916, I found that the materials, symbols, and objects drawn on and attached to the shield hold a range of meanings - from personal connection to spiritual importance for both protection and directing energy. A full examination of this specific shield will help in determining whether shields like this should be considered for repatriation under NAGPRA

Visiting SIMA faculty Jilda Andrews gave her last lesson “Engagement with communities – contemporary considerations (inc...
07/13/2023

Visiting SIMA faculty Jilda Andrews gave her last lesson “Engagement with communities – contemporary considerations (including protocols)” which brought various threads together by examining her own Yuwaalaraay kin in and outside of museum displays and collections; doing so she helped students think about the terms of their own engagement and the possibilities that collections have and are constitutive of….

Visiting faculty Jilda Andrews spent time for her lesson “Objects as ambassadors – entering the dialogue” talked to SIMA...
07/13/2023

Visiting faculty Jilda Andrews spent time for her lesson “Objects as ambassadors – entering the dialogue” talked to SIMA about understandings of country and the ways in which cloaks made from possum skins materialized relations in the past and now in the present. Students spent time with Jilda examining a possum skin cloak collected by Horatio Hale during the US Exploring Expedition in 1839. While the details of its collecting are unclear, the Awabakal term worowán was recorded to describe it. This suggests that the cloak may have been obtained from Awabakal people who inhabit the Hunter River/Lake Macquarie region in South East Australia. More research is needed to determine the cloaks precise locality.

Eric Hollinger, Tribal Liaison in the Repatriation Office of the NMNH Department of Anthropology, describes 3D digitizat...
07/12/2023

Eric Hollinger, Tribal Liaison in the Repatriation Office of the NMNH Department of Anthropology, describes 3D digitization and replication of objects from the collections. Community involvement in the creation of these digital models and physical replicas is extensive and fundamental to these projects.

Madeleine Strait (University of California Berkeley) is looking at Pomo baskets collected by John Hudson in California i...
07/12/2023

Madeleine Strait (University of California Berkeley) is looking at Pomo baskets collected by John Hudson in California in the 1890s. Hudson recorded significant linguistic information which reflects basketry techniques and contains terms for the materials themselves.

Sometimes technology fails (our projector and a plane) but in this case SIMA alum and Curator of Hawai’i Smithsonian’s N...
07/11/2023

Sometimes technology fails (our projector and a plane) but in this case SIMA alum and Curator of Hawai’i Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Halena Kapuni-Reynolds shone as he talked about his career trajectory and his work to bring Hawaiian cultural concepts into heritage and museum spaces….

Christina Kreps (University of Denver), 2023 Faculty Fellow, is discussing the “Dyak Spirit House” with SIMA students Mi...
07/11/2023

Christina Kreps (University of Denver), 2023 Faculty Fellow, is discussing the “Dyak Spirit House” with SIMA students Michael Hopper (University of New Mexico) and Madeline Strait (University of California Berkeley) . The house was collected in Borneo by W. L. Abbot in 1908. The Dyak peoples of Borneo used it to place offerings to forest-dwelling spirits. Her SIMA research project involves looking at the Abbot collection – particularly objects that relate to spirituality and human relationships with the non-human world.

Ana Rosa Rivera, a 2023 SIMA collections intern, is an MA student in the Library and Information Science Program at the ...
07/11/2023

Ana Rosa Rivera, a 2023 SIMA collections intern, is an MA student in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Maryland College Park. She has worked as a collections volunteer at the Augusta Museum of History and is currently working on a project to help create a Pathfinder for the Piscataway-Conoy tribe.

Alex Brown, the 2023 SIMA archives intern, is finishing her MS in Library and Information Science at the University of I...
07/10/2023

Alex Brown, the 2023 SIMA archives intern, is finishing her MS in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During SIMA she was able to navigate the NAA collection in a variety of media, including manuscripts, maps, photographs, and artwork

Yingchun Xu (Rutgers) is looking at everyday women’s clothing of the Akha ethnic group, one of the seven hill tribes in ...
07/10/2023

Yingchun Xu (Rutgers) is looking at everyday women’s clothing of the Akha ethnic group, one of the seven hill tribes in northern Thailand. Their colorful clothing with geometrical shapes and patterns representing rivers, mountains, animals and plants, maps their migration history from their origins in northern China, through Burma, Laos and Thailand.

Joshua Bell focusing on a series of accessions from New Guinea, Torres Strait and Vanuatu to talk about how to investiga...
07/09/2023

Joshua Bell focusing on a series of accessions from New Guinea, Torres Strait and Vanuatu to talk about how to investigate Indigenous agency in collection formation and the ways one can understand the past and its possibilities through collections

Delighted to announce the guest faculty for SIMA this summer: Jilda Andrews, Joe Horse Capture and Candace Greene. We al...
02/28/2023

Delighted to announce the guest faculty for SIMA this summer: Jilda Andrews, Joe Horse Capture and Candace Greene. We also have a range of Smithsonian based researchers, archival and museum professionals instructing students.

Please join us for Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology seminar series - Putting Theory and Things Together: Conversa...
01/12/2023

Please join us for Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology seminar series - Putting Theory and Things Together: Conversations about Anthropology & Museums -

The State and the Museum: Representations and Refusals

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 2, 2023 - 3pm EST/9pm CET/ +9am NZST

RVSP:https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6Q4jWwwZROOY2H0avfEcig

Museums have levied epistemic violence against colonized and minority communities since their inception by representing dominant discourses and histories. Many museums house colonial collections, and/or are governmental institutions, especially in post-colonial societies. Exhibits featuring these collections have usually elided the difficult knowledge that contextualized them, especially when adhering to the project of nationalism, resulting in demands for artistic and curatorial interventions and diversity in hiring practices. Furthermore, this century has witnessed an escalation in nationalistic fervor and resistance movements around the world, as well as a dynamically debated discourse around repatriation and decolonization. In this discussion, we address the relationship that exists between museums, the state, and the nation. The presence of statecraft within the museum has to be confronted in terms of its objects and exhibits and its representations and refusals. What is the responsibility of the museum as an anthropological institution? How does its institutional structure allow for resistance, if such a thing can be imagined or practiced within its walls? What kinds of negotiations can be facilitated by the museum and what kinds of refusals are possible? We discuss the actualities of the museum with respect to its statist features and values, as well as the potentialities for growth, death, and regeneration.

MODERATOR:
Sowparnika Balaswaminathan, Assistant Professor (Religions & Cultures), Concordia University & Research Associate, Smithsonian NMNH

SPEAKERS:
Karl Johnstone (Rongowhakaata) is the Founder/Director of Haumi, a multi-disciplinary cultural and creative studio based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Wayne Modest is Director of Content of the National Museum of World Culture (a museum group comprising the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, Africa Museum) and the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

SIMA 2023 Call For ApplicationsThe Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is happy to announce that we are accep...
11/30/2022

SIMA 2023 Call For Applications

The Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) is happy to announce that we are accepting proposals from prospective graduate student participants for the 2023 program. The program to be held next summer at the National Museum of Natural History from June 20 – July 14, 2023.
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.
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. Visiting faculty members for 2023 will be announced in the coming months. Local faculty will include Dr. Joshua A. Bell, SIMA director and Dr. Candace Greene Director emeritus of SIMA as well as other Smithsonian Institution Department of Anthropology curators and staff.
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.

Dates: June 20, 2023 – July 14, 2023
Application deadline - March 1, 2023

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]

After a bit of a hiatus we are pleased to announce the resumption of the Putting Theory and Things Together: Conversatio...
10/13/2022

After a bit of a hiatus we are pleased to announce the resumption of the Putting Theory and Things Together: Conversations about Anthropology & Museums webinar series.

The State and the Museum: Representations and Refusals

Thursday October 27, 2022 - 3pm EST/9pm CET/8am (+1) NZST
RVSP: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_snhBzVNrQj6vggKcGxdYmA

Museums have levied epistemic violence against colonized and minority communities since their inception by representing dominant discourses and histories. Many museums house colonial collections, and/or are governmental institutions, especially in post-colonial societies. Exhibits featuring these collections have usually elided the difficult knowledge that contextualized them, especially when adhering to the project of nationalism, resulting in demands for artistic and curatorial interventions and diversity in hiring practices. Furthermore, this century has witnessed an escalation in nationalistic fervor and resistance movements around the world, as well as a dynamically debated discourse around repatriation and decolonization. In this discussion, we address the relationship that exists between museums, the state, and the nation. The presence of statecraft within the museum has to be confronted in terms of its objects and exhibits and its representations and refusals. What is the responsibility of the museum as an anthropological institution? How does its institutional structure allow for resistance, if such a thing can be imagined or practiced within its walls? What kinds of negotiations can be facilitated by the museum and what kinds of refusals are possible? We discuss the actualities of the museum with respect to its statist features and values, as well as the potentialities for growth, death, and regeneration.

MODERATOR
Sowparnika Balaswaminathan, Assistant Professor (Religions & Cultures), Concordia University & Research Associate, Smithsonian NMNH

SPEAKERS
Karl Johnstone (Rongowhakaata) is the Founder/Director of Haumi, a multi-disciplinary cultural and creative studio based in Auckland, New Zealand. Karl has worked across the creative sector for over 25 years as a creative director, curator, and strategist. Alongside his passion of working with iwi Māori, he has developed major cultural diplomacy initiatives, cultural centres, exhibitions and experiences. A graduate of the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, (majoring in painting), Karl has worked at New Zealand’s National Museum (‘Te Papa’) and was the director of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Wayne Modest is Director of Content of the National Museum of World Culture (a museum group comprising the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, Africa Museum) and the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. He is also professor (by special appointment) of material culture and critical heritage studies at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. A cultural studies scholar by training, Modest works at the intersection of material culture, memory and heritage studies, with a strong focus on colonialism and its afterlives in Europe and the Caribbean.

SIMA had the pleasure of having postdoctoral fellow Audry Linn and Curator Logan Kistler (zooming in via a laptop) talk ...
07/14/2022

SIMA had the pleasure of having postdoctoral fellow Audry Linn and Curator Logan Kistler (zooming in via a laptop) talk about their collaborative project with Salish communities on Coast Salish woolly dogs

One of the lessons that occurs at SIMA is Joshua A Bell's exploding objects exercise. Developed over the last several ye...
07/14/2022

One of the lessons that occurs at SIMA is Joshua A Bell's exploding objects exercise. Developed over the last several years, students are grouped up and asked to closely look at the objects at hand and make a drawing that examines the object's (1) materials and their sources, (2) makers, tools and possible processes of making, and (3) social dynamics of making. An exercise of close-looking, this lesson also helps students think about the networks that inform all objects and what they can and cannot know from this form of engagement.

In the first image students are looking at a tevau or feather money-belt from Santa Cruz, Solomon Islands (E399109), the second is of a group looking at a Moro Brass Helmet and ornament from the southern Philippines (E327146), and the last a large beaded ornament from the Aguaruna (Awajún) culture from Rio Maranon, Ecuador (E366076).

And SIMA 2022 is a wrap after a 2 year hiatus. In 4 weeks 11 students, 5 collection/archive interns, 2 faculty fellows e...
07/09/2022

And SIMA 2022 is a wrap after a 2 year hiatus. In 4 weeks 11 students, 5 collection/archive interns, 2 faculty fellows engaged 5 faculty, 8 guest speakers and a fraction of the 146 million objects.

We are grateful to everyone working at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, National Museum of American History and the wider Smithsonian as well as the National Science Foundation.

We will be posting images and abstracts from the final presentations in the days to come.

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