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Objects and Others: Museums and the Politics of Representation
AMST 225
Fall 2009 not offered
Crosslisting: ANTH 224

In this introductory course we will examine the representation of race, class and gender in American museums. We will study the politics of collecting both past and present in the United States, juxtaposing the colonial with the postcolonial. In this process, students will examine how the exhibition of objects functions to create systems of representation that (re)produce meaning. Ultimately, this course is concerned with the poetics and politics of exhibition and how these practices contribute to national narratives of American identity and belonging.

To explore the politics and poetics of representation, we interrogate categories such as art, native art, ethnographic artifacts, tourist art, and scientific specimens. By scrutinizing the economic relaties of tourist art, for example, or investigating how the authenticity of artifacts is largely determined by racialized cultural categories, students learn to problematize systems of representation that (re)produce meaning within the circuit of culture. Guiding questions for this course include: What does power have to do with representation? Why do some cultures collect others? How is meaning constructed and (re)produced in museums? How do these meanings contribute to the way we understand our nation, history, communities, and the place of individuals therein?

The goal of the course is to have students learn to (1) think critically about the politics of representation; (2) express their thoughts, ideas, and experiences in constructive, intellectual dialogue that draws upon scholarly research and theory; (3) recognize that the relationship between representation and power extends beyond the context of museums.

Essential Capabilities: None
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AMST
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on JUL-28-2021
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