Claire Heckel: "Object vs. Ethnography: Reinterpreting Plains Material Culture at the AMNH"


Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Tozzer Library Room 203, 21 Divinity Ave, Cambrdige MA 02138



The study of artifacts collected during ethnological expeditions is often guided by the observations of ethnographers, giving primacy to observations that may be incorrect, incomplete, and/or generalized from a limited set of examples. Claire Heckel’s research on objects of dress and adornment in the Great Plains collections at the American Museum of Natural History subverts conventional ethnographic authority through object-focused reconstructions of technique, technological choice, and the circulation of objects in systems of gifting. This research, in its early stages, has revealed discrepancies between material culture-evidence and ethnographic texts that demonstrate the value of an objects-centered approach to the re-evaluation of ethnographic claims.