ANTHRO 1435 - Challenging Collections: Critical Reflections on Collecting Through Harvard’s History

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2022

Profs. Diana Loren, Ilisa Barbash, and Ingrid Ahlgren
Mon. 12:00 PM - 2:45 PM 
Peabody 12

Harvard’s museum collections have often been used to interrogate the world outside of “us”: peoples, events, places, and things. This course reverses that gaze and asks what the collections and the processes of collecting reveal about the history of Harvard and its institutional identity as “the” place of learning. In this course, we unpack the historical circumstances surrounding the arrival of particular collections of photographs and objects at Harvard’s Peabody Museum: such ones related to imperial desires, scientific inquiry, academic curiosity, and the violence of colonialism. How does critically examining this past inform present action and future strategies in contemporary museum practice at the Peabody Museum? This is a hands-on collections course that will be taught at the Peabody Museum and will include visits to other museums, archives, and libraries on campus.