The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA), a section of the American Anthropological Association, recognizes innovative and influential contributions to the field of museum anthropology.
There are three categories of awards:
Michael M. Ames Award, 2018 due date TBD
Distinguished Service Award, 2018 due date TBD
Student Travel Awards, 2018 due date TBD
This Year’s Awards
All CMA award applications and nominations must be submitted as digital data (Word documents, pdf files and/or jpg files), sent via email to arrive on or before the deadline.
Email all three members of the Awards Committee:
W. Warner Wood (Chair) <email@example.com>
Adrian Van Allen<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joshua A. Bell<BellJA@si.edu>
Award winners will be notified so they have sufficient time to make travel arrangements. Winners will be formally recognized at the CMA Annual Meeting and CMA Reception during the AAA Annual Meeting, and will also be highlighted in the CMA column in Anthropology News.
Michael M. Ames Award, due date TBD
The CMA Michael M. Ames Prize for Innovative Museum Anthropology is awarded to individuals for an innovative project in museum anthropology. Examples include: outstanding single or multi-authored books or published catalogues; temporary or permanent exhibits; repatriation projects; collaborations with descendant communities; educational or outreach projects; multimedia works, and other endeavours. Individuals can be nominated by any member of CMA (self-nominations are not permitted).
Nomination packets must include a cover letter and evidence of the work under consideration (e.g., photographs, catalogues, links to websites, etc.), and supporting materials (e.g., letters of support, media coverage, etc.). All material must be submitted as digital data (Word documents, pdf files and/or jpg files). The nomination packet should not exceed 5 pages.
Evaluation Criteria: 1) Creativity: Is the project a unique and creative exploration of museum anthropology’s central themes, tensions, and histories? 2) Timeliness: Does the project say something important about museum anthropology’s current predicaments and unknown future? 3) Depth: In what ways does the project penetrate into the complexity of material culture and the study of it through novel methods and theories? 4) Impact: Does the project have the potential to make broad and lasting impacts in museum anthropology?
Ames Award recipients will be presented with a gift from CMA and a certificate of the award.
Distinguished Service Award, due date TBD
The CMA Board recently instituted a new Lifetime Achievement/Distinguished Service Award to recognize CMA members whose careers demonstrate extraordinary achievements that have advanced museum anthropology. These achievements might include: collections work, community collaborations, exhibitions, publications, public programming and outreach, teaching, policy development, etc. While many anthropologists distinguish themselves through their works, this award is meant to single out those who, over the course of their careers, have truly helped to define and or reshape the field of anthropology in and of museums. Nominees are expected to have spent at least 20 years working in the field of museum anthropology.
Nomination packets must include: a two-page letter of recommendation in support of the nominee; and any additional supporting materials deemed relevant by the nominator (e.g., nominee’s c.v., other supporting letters). The letter should provide a contextual summary of the nominee’s signature accomplishments, and it should demonstrate the nominee’s qualifications. The nomination packet should not exceed 5 pages.
Evaluation Criteria: 1) Impact: How has the nominee’s work transformed and or contributed to the discipline of museum anthropology (e.g., theory, methodology, influence); 2) Service: How has the nominee provided service to specific museums (e.g., collections, exhibits, public outreach); 3) Mentoring: How has the nominee influenced and inspired the careers of students and colleagues (e.g., mentorship, curriculum development, innovative teaching)?
Lifetime Award recipients will be presented with a gift from CMA and a certificate of the award.
CMA Student Travel Award, due date TBD
The CMA Student Travel Awards are designed to support graduate student travel to the annual AAA meeting to present papers and/or posters. Students and recent graduate degree recipients (those who have defended within the year of the award) are eligible to apply. Each year, CMA will award two prizes of $500 each.
Application packets (maximum 5 pages) must include: a brief letter indicating the applicant’s student status and explaining how this project reflects the student’s graduate work; a copy of the abstract for the proposed paper or poster (and for the session in which they will be presenting, if known); and a letter of endorsement from an academic advisor at the student’s most recent institution of study.
Evaluation Criteria: 1) Creativity: Is the paper or poster a unique and novel contribution to museum anthropology? 2) Commitment: Does the student demonstrate a commitment to the field of museum anthropology 3) Impact: Does the paper or poster have the potential to develop into a work that could more broadly impact the field of museum anthropology?
Student Travel Award recipients will be presented with a check for $500 and a certificate of the award.
Past Award Winners
Distinguished Service Award
Dr. Howard Morphy
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Australian National University, and Honorary Curator, Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford
A visionary of bringing cross-cultural methods and an interdisciplinary approach to museum studies, Dr. Howard Morphy’s noteworthy contributions to the study of art and anthropology, and his fierce commitment to Aboriginal Australian artists and communities for well over 40 years, is recognized by the Council for Museum Anthropology for the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. As an emerging scholar, Dr. Morphy conducted fieldwork in northeast Arnhem Land of Australia, establishing working relationships and friendships with Yolgnu artists that continue to distinguish his pivotal arguments for inclusivity of non-European artists in the fields of art history, art criticism, and visual anthropology. His work with Arnhem Land communities on art, exhibitions, and critical legal cases is a stellar example of meaningful long-term collaboration, much also done in collaboration with Frances Morphy. Dr. Morphy’s many years working with Yolgnu artists and friends has influenced a rich collection of scholarship and exhibitions that contextualize art as inseparable from social, political, and economic processes. As a scholar of social theory, he has also been a tireless advocate for recognizing the important role that museum anthropology has played in the history of anthropology and the tremendous potential it continues to hold.
Through his curatorial and academic work at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Oxford University, Dr. Morphy pioneered a model for graduate studies, bringing together an inter-disciplinary team of scholars and museum professionals. Recognizing the strength of creating a multifaceted approach to the study and presentation of material culture, Dr. Morphy returned to Australia and developed an interdisciplinary focused graduate degree program as founding Director of the Research School of Humanities at Australian National University. As a result of his openness to collaborate with colleagues, work with students, and create residencies for Aboriginal Australian artists to cultivate cross-cultural dialogue, Dr. Morphy’s influence on museum studies, visual anthropology, and art history is far reaching.
He is the author of several seminal works on Australian Aboriginal art including Ancestral Connections (1991) and Becoming Art: Exploring Cross Cultural Categories (2007); he is co-editor of The Anthropology of Art: A Reader (2006), and Rethinking Visual Anthropology (2007). His exhibitions include Yingapungapu, one of the inaugural exhibitions for the National Museum of Australia, and the co-curated exhibition Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation at the British Museum. Dr. Morphy has also directed, consulted on, and partnered with filmmakers, producing Journey to the Crocodiles Nest with Ian Dunlop and directing and editing We Stand on the Footprints of the Old People (2010) with Peter Eve and Ursula Frederick. In 2013 he was awarded the Huxley Memorial medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Adrienne L. Kaeppler
Curator of Oceania, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Working in the Pacific, Dr. Kaeppler pioneered the combination of collections based research and careful provenance research with field collaborations with communities. Having worked with and in museums – notably the Bishop Museum and Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (1984 – present) – her two hundred articles and edited/co- authored and single authored books focus on the cultures of the Pacific and the interrelationships between social structure, material culture and the arts, especially dance, music, and the visual arts. This breadth and depth of her publications is matched by an equally expansive list of important exhibitions. Since receiving her PhD in 1967 from the University of Hawaii she has continued to be a vital force in the field of museum anthropology. Nurturing many generations of scholars from the Pacific and other regions, she has received many awards for her work: the Silver Jubilee Anniversary Medal given by the King of Tonga for contributions to Tongan culture, the 2012 Kalani Ali`i Award from Aha Hipu`u (Four Hawaiian Royal Societies) for Lifetime Achievements in the Study of and Contributions to Hawaiian Culture, and was named the 2011 Smithsonian Secretary’s Distinguished Lecturer. She is past president of the World Dance Alliance of the Americas, has held various positions in the Society for Ethnomusicology, is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association, and an advisor to UNESCO on Intangible World Heritage.
Her most recent scholarship focuses on Pacific Island barkcloth and exemplifies her continued relevance as a scholar and pioneer. For this work she has brought together a remarkable range of museum research methods in this project. One is replicative technology, which involved gathering and cultivation of the mamaki plant purportedly once used in barkcloth, then harvesting and processing it with assistance of Pacific Island tapa- makers who were in-residence at the Smithsonian. Another method has been working with scientists to conduct high tech analysis of barkcloth using SEM, DNA, and other sophisticated laboratory methods.
Canada Research Chair in Modern Culture and Professor of Art History , Carlton University
Dr. Ruth Phillips was awarded for her extraordinary contributions to key literatures within museum anthropology, and her important contributions through her vision and leadership in creating two web-accessible databases and their associated research networks, GRASAC and the MOA’s Reciprocal Research Network. Each bring key developments in digital and community collaboration together and take the museum anthropology profession in new directions. Her exhibitions include Patterns of Power: Early Great Lakes Indian Art and the Jasper Grant Collections; The Spirit Sings; Across Borders: Beadwork in Iroquois Life. Publications include: Museum Pieces: Toward the Indigenization of Canadian Museums; Trading Identities: The Souvenir in Native North American Art from the Northeast, 1700-1900; Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture, and Unpacking Culture: Arts and Commodities in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds. She has been a member of the Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples; Director of the Museum of Anthropology; active with the Otsego Institute, the Hearst, Peabody Harvard, Native American Art Studies Association. She was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2007.
Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona and Curator of Ethnology at the Arizona State Museum
Dr. Nancy Parezo has a long and distinguished career of scholarship, museum work and mentorship. Parezo’s work has helped shape a new generation of museum anthropology scholarship. In terms of scholarship, her projects—which range from sandpainting studies to fashion shows—have contributed to our understanding of the dynamics of material culture in Native North American societies and the settler-colonial framework of the United States, as well as the formation of anthropology. She has published research on a variety of topics germane to the discipline, including: Navajo religion, art, economics, law, and culture change; archival and ethnohistoric research on Southwestern Native American material culture, arts, and crafts; and the history and impact of world’s fairs. To date, she has authored, edited, or co-edited more than a dozen books—including Anthropology Goes to the Fair (2007), Hidden Scholars (1993) and Daughters of the Desert (1988)—along with many dozens of peer-reviewed articles.
Michael M. Ames Award for Innovative Museum Anthropology
Jisgang, Nika Collison, Curator, Haida Gwaii Museum
Jisgang (Ts’aahl; eagle clan, Haida Nation), Nika Collison (Curator, Haida Gwaii Museum) was awarded for her innovative approach to indigenous curation and museum work more broadly. “Yahhadang.gang” describes an ethic of the Haida that places respect at the core of relationships. Collison has developed an approach to museum work that grows from this Haida concept creating a uniquely indigenous ethical museum practice. She first developed this approach while engaged in repatriation work as a senior negotiator for the Haida Repatriation Committee and has since brought it to her wider curatorial and museum advising work. Collison’s exhibition work, for example, is exemplary for its grounding in collaborative and consultative processes, including “Art and Artist,” an exhibition that brought 80 pieces to the Haida from private and public collections. Her advisory work with museums also demonstrates her deep and abiding community-based knowledge and the unique way that her museum practice combines the international museum world and Haida cultural practices. Her recent work with the American Museum of Natural History to have an historic Skedans chest used in a potlatch before being exhibited at the Haida Gwaii Museum provides a fitting example. That project and her other museum work in Canada, the United States, and around the world, are a testament to her ability to create a space for respectful engagement. Her indigenous model of curatorial practice does not so much “bridge” two worlds of museum curation but innovatively produces a new one.
c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city
c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city comprised three exhibits at the Musqueam Cultural Education Resource Center (MCERC), the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) and the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), all of the same title, that opened in Vancouver in January 2015 (http://www.thecitybeforethecity.com). this interdisiciplinary, inter-institutional, and intercultural project –it was collaboratively planned by Leona Sparrow, Jason Woolman, Larissa Grant, and Terry Point from Musqueam’s Treaty Lands and Resource office, Susan Roy from the University of Waterloo, Viviane Gosselin from Museum of Vancouver, and Susan Rowley and Jordan Wilson from the UBC Museum of Anthropology. The team also worked with a Cultural Advisory Group of six Musqueam community curators representing different aspects of community life and a diversity of families: Howard E. Grant and Howard J. Grant, Johnny Louis Sr., and Wendy Grant-John as community and inter-governmental leaders, Larry Grant as a leader in cultural and language revitalization, and Mary Roberts as a leader in education and the public school system, as well as (as if that wasn’t complex enough), Kate Hennessy, Alissa Antle, Reese Muntean and a team of students from Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology on new media components of the show.As a wholly collaborative, multi-sited exhibition, c̓əsnaʔəm makes a significant contribution to museum anthropology. In addition, the project crossed temporal and disciplinary boundaries by showcasing both archaeological and contemporary material culture. It also tackled politically charged, relevant, topics and emphasizes advocacy and change. Moreover, this exhibition project is also a perfect fit for an Ames award because it was Michael Ames who founded UBC-Musqueam collaborations with Leona Sparrow, one of the Musqueam curators, in 2001 (http://www.musqueam.bc.ca/musqueam-101). c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city was a timely, creative, complex, and impactful exhibition project that was an ideal winner for the 2016 Ames award.
Fiona McDonald, Kate Hennessey, Craig Campbell, Stephanie Takaragawa, Trudi Smith
Dr. Fiona MacDonald (Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Arts & Humanities Institute (IAHI)), Dr. Kate Hennessy (Assistant Professor of Media at Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT)), Dr. Craig Campbell (Assistant Professor of Cultural Forms and Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Chapman University), and Trudi Smith (artist and visual anthropologist at the University of Victoria), were awarded for their innovative curatorial and exhibition work on Ethnographic Terminalia, a curatorial collective. For the past seven years, Ethnographic Terminalia has curated group exhibitions in tandem with the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association–in cities such as Philadelphia, New Orleans, Montréal, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago. These off-site, innovative installations have blurred the boundaries of museology, ethnography and contemporary art, through collaborations with ethnographers, cultural theorists, and over 110 artists to date, and through creative uses of space, materials, and new media. Michael Ames was unwavering in his commitment to ‘de-school’ the museum, to revolutionizing ways of knowing and learning within and beyond the walls of the museum. Ethnographic Terminalia is exemplary of Ames’ idea of de- schooling the museum, destabilizing authoritative structures and creating a relational web of proactive and self-motivated individuals who, in this case, are pushing at the institutional and disciplinary boundaries of museums, art and anthropology. They have offered radical, alternative ways of thinking through things and representing different forms of knowledge and praxis.
Leslie Witz and Noëleen Murray
Hostels, Homes, Museum: Memorialising Migrant Labour Pasts in Lwandle, South Africa (2014)
Leslie Witz (History Department, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa) and Noëleen Murray (Geography and Environmental Studies, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa) are awarded for their book Hostels, Homes, Museum: Memorialising Migrant Labour Pasts in Lwandle, South Africa (2014), their intellectual and practical work with the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum, and the exhibit “Hostel 33.” The Museum is the first town-ship based museum in the Western Cape province of South Africa and was founded in 1998 to serve as a reminder of the migrant labor system that undergirded the apartheid system. In a 1990s post-apartheid development scheme to refurbish hostels into family homes, a committee decided to preserve one dormitory, block 6, hostel 33, as the foundation for the new museum. Witz and Murray have worked with LMLM board members, museum staff, residents and appointed professionals since 2000 on the development of the museum and the exhibition based on its key artifact–the migrant labor hostel. They have also helped create a walking tour of the area, build collections, and design a public space around the museum. This long-term engagement and their research on and documentation of the LMLM’s exhibitions over the years became the basis for their book.
Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA)
Dr. Candace Greene (Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History) conceived of the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) as a vehicle for training graduate students in the use of museums and collections as significant resources for anthropological enquiry. The SIMA program provides graduate students interested in material culture with an unparalleled opportunity to engage in intensive training in collections-based research under the direction of faculty members with a wealth of research and teaching experience. The curriculum for the program is succinctly described on the SIMA promotional poster as “putting theory and things together.” As director of the Institute she recruited other professionals to help develop the program—notably Dr. Nancy Parezo who has been a faculty member from the beginning. Dr. Greene secured consecutive National Science Foundation grants to support the implementation of the SIMA program. Each year since its inception in 2009, SIMA has hosted and trained 12 aboriginal and non-aboriginal students from across North America and beyond in museum anthropology and material culture research.
Laura Peers, Alison K. Brown, and Heather Richardson
Blackfoot Shirts Project
Dr. Laura Peers (curator of the Americas, Pitt Rivers Museum and reader in Material Anthropology, University of Oxford) and Dr. Alison K. Brown (lecturer, department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen), in conjunction with Pitt Rivers Museum conservator Heather Richardson worked with all four Blackfoot Nations (Siksika, Piikani, Kainai in Canada, and the Blackfeet of Browning, Montana, in the United States) to bring five early 19th century shirts, in the Pitt Rivers Museum collection since 1893, to Alberta where they could be seen, handled, and studied by more than 500 Blackfoot youth, teachers, ceremonialists, elders, and artists. Tangible outcomes included a travelling exhibition in 2010 at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and the Galt Museum and Archive in Lethbridge, as well as a website describing the project, recording Blackfoot responses, outlining lesson plans, and conservation approaches (http://web.prm.ox.ac.uk/blackfootshirts).
Pathways to Zuni Wisdom, A:shiwi Map Art Project, Kechiba:wa Digital Collection
Situated within the Pueblo of Zuni, in western New Mexico, the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center is a private not-for-profit museum that works “for the people and by the people.” Jim Enote, Executive Director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, has been at the center of the Museum’s innovative programming, which focuses on preserving and perpetuating Zuni traditional knowledge. Moving beyond the museum’s small public exhibit and collection, Mr. Enote imagined and implemented a string of ground-breaking projects that connects youth to elders, and ancient life to modern ways. Projects included “Pathways to Zuni Wisdom,” an after school and summer program that uses the traditional farming and gardening to help students learn about the environment and scientific principles, the “A:shiwi Map Art Project,” which uses local Zuni artists to render the Zuni cultural landscape, the “Kechiba:wa Digital Collection” project, a collaboration with the Cambridge Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology enabling Zunis to have access to British collections through a culturally-sensitive digital database.
Student Travel Award
- Halena Kapuni-Reynolds (Doctoral student in the American Studies Department and the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa) for the paper titled “Moʻokūʻauhau (Genealogies) of People and Practice: Indigenous Curation and the Care of Kanaka ʻŌiwi Collections at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.”
- Emily Buhrow Rogers (Doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University and a Research Associate with the Mathers Museum of World Cultures) for her paper entitled, “Weaving the Commons in Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Basket Making.”
- AK de Morais (PhD candidate in the History of Consciousness
University of California, Santa Cruz) for his paper titled “Contingent Collection and Uncertain Objects: Thinking through the Smithsonian-Universal African Expedition.”
- Sowparnika Balaswaminathan (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego) for her paper entitled, “Contesting Tradition: What is Visible and Valuable through Iconic Replication.”
- Adrian Van Allen (PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley) for her paper entitled, “Object Lessons: Dioramas, Genomes, and Shifting Concepts of Authenticity at the Smithsonian.”
- Joseph Feldman (PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Florida) for his paper titled “’Not South Africa’: Making Transnational Justice Peruvian at a National Museum Project” in the session entitled “Transitional Justice in Space and Time”
- Hannah Turner (PhD Candidate, Faculty of Information, at the University of Toronto) for her work organizing the session, “Producing Anthropology through Museum Collections: Conversations in Critical Cataloguing,” for which her paper was entitled, “The Infrastructure of Ethnographic Data.”
- Emma-Louise Knight (Research Assistant, University of Toronto) for her paper entitled “Repatriation Revisited: Contemporary Meanings of the Kwakwaka’wakw Potlatch Collection” in the session, Source Community and Museum Engagements (Thursday, November 21, 2013).
- Catherine Nichols (PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Arizona State University) for her work organizing a session entitled “Museum Methodologies & Collaborations: Papers in Honor of Nancy J. Parezo” (Friday, November 22, 2013), where her paper is entitled “Designating Duplicates: How Curators Chose Museum Objects to Give or Keep.”
- Jennifer K. Brown (PhD Candidate in medical anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania) for her paper titled, “Bones, Blood, and Basketry: The Curation of Life by Museums and Biobanks.”
- Rachel Roy (PhD Student in museum anthropology at the University of British Columbia) for her work with Art History, Anthropology and Critical Curatorial graduate students co-curating the No Windows (2010) exhibition and related Sound of Conversation program at the Satellite Gallery.
- Fiona McDonald (PhD candidate in Visual Anthropology and Material Culture at University College London) for the exhibition Field, Studio, Lab organized by theEthnographic Terminalia Collective in collaboration with Dr. Erica Lehrer, Director of the Center for Ethnographic Research.
- Diana E. Marsh, (PhD student in Museum Anthropology at the University of British Columbia) for her work organizing the panel “Living Collections: Social Networks of Space, Place and Materiality,”for which her paper was entitled“‘Reassembling’ the ‘Social Life’ of a Medicine Man at the Science Museum, London.”
- Suzanne Godby Ingalsbe (PhD candidate, Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology) for her paper -“Circulating the Past and Future Through Museum Artifacts”
- Danielle Merriman (MA Student, Cultural Anthropology Denver) for her paper “Community Museum or Tourist Shop?: Local Contestation of Museum Meanings in Costa Rica”