Friday, 21 October 2016

On the Treatment of Dead Enemies (Public Lecture in Glasgow, 1 November)

Image: A large-format drawing on paper of "Anthropologist Edward H. Man with two Nicobar Islanders", made by Alfred Robinson for lectures by E.B. Tylor in the Pitt Rivers Museum, c.1885-1890  (Copyright Pitt Rivers Museum; Accession Number 1944.1.34)
I'm looking forward to giving this public lecture and masterclass on Tuesday 1 November in Glasgow. It's for for a newly-formed graduate programme for material culture research titled Collections: an Enlightenment Pedagogy for the 21st Century, which is led by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanties at the University of Glasgow, in partnership with the Hunterian Museum and the Leverhulme Trust.

Full details are below. The lecture is in the Kelvin Hall Lecture Cinema, and the event is from 5pm to 7pm. You can sign up for the event, which is free on the eventbrite page here.

Here's the lecture outline from SGSAH: 

On the Treatment of Dead Enemies
Dan Hicks, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford
What do the objects in ethnographic museums tell us about anthropological knowledge? The discipline of Anthropology gradually from the 1920s, turned its back on practices of collecting and exhibition in favour of the production of field notes and monographs. From the 1970s, in the wake of the civil rights movement and the emergence of post-colonial studies, ethnographic museums were the most visible public sites in which the loss of authority of an anthropological voice was made clear.
Today, ethnographic museums across Europe are experiencing a renaissance in public interest, but generally remain disconnected from current anthropological thinking and knowledge, perceived as museums of museums, mere relics of empire.
Beginning with the famous case in the Court of the Pitt Rivers Museum, titled "On the Treatment of Dead Enemies", this talk takes stock not just of what Anthropology left behind in the process of leaving the museum and material culture behind, but what it carried with it in terms of practices and attitudes in fieldwork and knowledge.
Considering the changing place of anthropological material culture studies in interdisciplinary studies of materiality, the paper will reassess the significance of the collections of ethnographic museums today in the context firstly of calls for the decolonization of the academy, and secondly of the challenges and importance of understanding other ways of living and of thinking for European society today.
Dan Hicks FSA, MCIfA is Associate Professor and Curator, Pitt Rivers Museum and School of Archaeology, University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. Dan teaches Archaeology, Anthropology and Art History at Oxford, and has published widely on Museums, Heritage, Material Culture, and the Archaeology of the Modern and Contemporary World. His books include The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies (2010, edited with Mary Beaudry) and World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum (2013, edited with Alice Stevenson). Dan is the University of Oxford's Junior Proctor Elect for 2017-18. Dan's current research activities include a programme of research into the archaeological activities of General Pitt-Rivers (funded by Arts Council England and ESRC), and a cross-disciplinary study of the temporary architecture of the refugee crisis in Europe (funded by a £300,000 grant from AHRC and ESRC, in partnership with the Refugee Studies Centre, from November 2016). You can follow Dan on Twitter: @ProfDanHicks and you can read much of his writing at

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