Unpacking the Czaplicka Collection: presence, experiences, and affordances

In this paper I probe the potential museum collections have to make present the complex and layered narratives inherent in historical ethnographic fieldwork. Drawing from recent studies in visual anthropology that emphasize the potential of ‘presence’ in the study of museum photographs (Edwards 2015, Morton and Geismar 2015, Pinney 2005) as ‘a way of thinking experience back into the historical equation’ (Edwards 2015: 242), I argue that museum objects as well as photographs speak beyond the evidence or representation they were intended to convey. Re-thinking objects in the Maria Czaplicka collection from the 1914-1915 Siberian expedition as traces of field experiences, I begin to unpack the history of the expedition and explore how this approach can activate objects in the museum to convey different pasts and offer a platform for engagements with contemporary source communities and museum audiences.

PRM Seminar in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology - Trinity Term 2018
Fridays 13:00 – 14:30 (Weeks 1-2), Lecture Theatre, Pitt Rivers Museum