“Go throw it in the river”, a lecture by Dr. Joshua Bell (National Museum of Natural History)
Friday, December 7th, 2018
Arrupe Multi-Purpose Room
Collaboration with communities in a variety of forms has become an important hallmark of anthropological investigations of museum collections. Opening up collections to communities is a critical way to examine the relations contained therein and the dormant knowledge, histories, and values that collections help materialize. Drawing on Dr. Joshua Bell’s own experiences bringing research partners from the Purari Delta of Papua New Guinea to the Smithsonian Institution (2011-14), and long-term fieldwork in the area (since 2000), he reflects on the success and failures of what Tsing has called the “productive confusions” of collaboration. The multiple breakdowns and subsequent repairs with I’ai individuals around collections at the Smithsonian not only highlight the shifting semiotic ideologies occurring in the Delta in the wake of resource extraction but also point to the enduring value that works with collections engenders.
Joshua A. Bell is a cultural anthropologist and Curator of Globalization at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Combining ethnographic fieldwork with research in museums and archives, Bell examines the shifting local and global network of relationships between persons,