American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting,
San Francisco, November 141th-18th 2012
Panel Organizers:
Diana Marsh (University of British Columbia)
Rachel Roy (University of British Columbia)
Anthony Shelton (Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia)

– Museum Anthropology – Institutional Critique – Knowledges

Following this year’s meeting theme, this panel will consider contemporary ‘borders’ and ‘crossings’ in the museum institution. Like anthropology itself, museums are increasingly defined by the collision of diverse knowledges or expertises, theorized as ‘contact zones’ (Clifford 1997) characterized by ‘mediated knowledges’ (Isaac 2007) or ‘frictions’ (Karp & Levine 2006; Tsing 2005) and necessarily based on diverse collaborations. They are also, like anthropology, changing in an increasingly neoliberal, globalized, and digital world. The museum ‘apparatus’—the “heterogeneous set of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions, laws administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophical, moral and philanthropic propositions” (Foucault 1980, 194) that shape museological behaviours and knowledges—is in flux. Following the conference’s call, we therefore hope to interrogate the “structures, genealogies and technological changes” that have shaped museums and continue to “shape our research questions, methodological choices, and subsequent interventions” in museum institutions.

As the theme of the panel suggests, we welcome papers reflecting on the shifting museum-as-institution from a wide range of approaches and disciplines.

Some themes/trends to consider:
-The impacts of cross-cultural and indigenous epistemologies
-The professionalization and departmentalization of museums
-Museums and “audit cultures” (Strathern 2000)
-Movements between art and anthropology, or other blending of historically separated museum content
-The changing role of objects or digital objects in the museum
-Shifting borders of the museum, museum ‘scapes’ (Clifford 1997) and/or impacts of digital technologies
-Interdisciplinarity or collaboration as method in the museum

Abstracts should be submitted by email to Diana Marsh ( and Rachel Roy ( by Monday, April 8 with the following information:

* Name
* Institutional affiliation
* Paper title
* 250-word abstract
* Contact information

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