Discussion and Q&A, Moderated by Kathleen Brown (U Penn)
What is the place of the U.S. in relation to global imperialism? In what ways have the dual histories of settler colonialism and slavery influenced collection and exhibition practices? What are the implications for the ways we think about and enact forms of decolonization and reparation?
Ciraj Rassool is professor of history and director of the African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He was the chairperson of the District Six Museum and council chairperson of Iziko Museums of South Africa, and was also on the councils of the National Heritage Council and the South African Heritage Resources Agency. Rassool is a board member of the South African History Archive, and is also a member of the Human Remains Advisory Committee of the Minister of Arts and Culture, South Africa. He is also an Associated Member of the Global South Studies Center at the University of Cologne and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Luschan Collection (Berlin).
Rassool is co-author or co-editor of several books about museums and public culture including Skeletons in the Cupboard: South African Museums and the Trade in Human Remains, 1907-1917, Recalling Community in Cape Town: Creating and Curating the District Six Museum, Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations, and The Politics of Heritage in Africa: Economies, Histories, and Infrastructures. He was recently a fellow at Morphomata Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Cologne.
Pamela L. Geller is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Miami. Her research starts from the premise that material and human remains communicate crucial information about the socio-political processes that impel the production of identity. In publications, she brings together varied concerns—bioarchaeology and biohistory; critical social theories about gender, sexuality, race, and nation; biopolitics and necropolitics; sociopolitics of the past; and bioethics. And, more recently she has become obsessed with plastics as 21st-century material culture in need of urgent archaeological attention.
Her publications include The Bioarchaeology of Social-Sexual Lives(2017, Springer Press), co-edited volume Feminist Anthropology (2006, Penn Press), numerous journal articles, and op-eds. She is also editor of the Routledge book series The Archaeology of Gender and Sexuality. Her current book-in-progress, titled Your Obedient Servant, is based on her biohistorical study of Samuel G. Morton and his controversial crania collection. Over the years, Geller has conducted fieldwork in Israel, Hawai’i, Belize, Honduras, Perú, and Haiti.
Monique Scott is the director of Museum Studies at Bryn Mawr College. She is an anthropologist with a career as both a scholar of museums and as a museum professional working within museums. After receiving her PhD in Anthropology from Yale University in 2004, she worked for more than ten years as head of cultural education at the American Museum of Natural History. Scott specializes in how diverse museum visitors make meaning of race and culture in museums, particularly representations of Africa and people of African descent, the basis for her 2007 book Rethinking Evolution in the Museum: Envisioning African Origins. Her recent research focuses on the representation of Africa in Philadelphia museums, exploring the dense tension between African objects collected as art or artifact in some of the country’s oldest museums.
Scott was on the curatorial team responsible for the renovation of the Penn Museum African galleries, and in 2019, Monique co-curated the temporary exhibition at the Penn Institute of Contemporary Art “Colored People Time: Quotidian Pasts.” She is also a Consulting Scholar for the Africa Section at the Penn Museum, a Research Associate in Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History and is on the African-American Collections Committee at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and an Associate Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she is the director of the American Indian Studies Program.
After earning undergraduate degrees from Oklahoma State University, she obtained a MA and PhD in Linguistics University of Colorado, Boulder. Before coming to UIUC, she was a Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at Yale University, and a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Kentucky.
She is the 2019-2023 Chancellor’s Fellow of Indigenous Research & Ethics. In this role, she is working to develop campus initiatives, including a campus-wide NAGPRA office, to ensure that the University is knowledgeable about and in compliance with U.S. and tribal government policies and protocols through collaborating with faculty, the NAGPRA Officer, campus and tribal leaders, and advising the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors on issues involving ethical research of Indigenous people, histories, and cultures. She also serves as the co-chair of the campus NAGPRA Advisory Committee.
Her research focuses on contemporary Indigenous language revitalization; Indigenous gender and sexuality; and collaborative methods, ethics, and repatriation in Indigenous research. Her research has been published in the Annual Review of Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Gender & Language, Language & Communication, and the Review of International American Studies (RIAS), among others. She is the recipient of two book prizes: the 2019 Beatrice Medicine Award from the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures for Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance (University of Arizona Press, 2018) and the 2014 Ruth Benedict Book Prize from the Association for Queer Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association for her co-edited volume Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language, Gender, and Sexuality (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Her poetry manuscript, Trickster Academy, is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press Sun Tracks Series, and her creative work has most recently been published in Transmotion; Anomaly; Santa Ana River Review; Broadsided; North Dakota Quarterly; Yellow Medicine Review; As/Us; Raven Chronicles; and Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance and exhibited at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.