Assembling the Transpacific
Indigenous Curatorial Practices, Material Cultures and Source Communities
Since the 18th century, the academic discipline of anthropology has emerged through scientific exploration and colonial expansion beyond Europe, as well as the establishment of ethnographic collections and museums in Europe. Ethnographic objects thus influenced academic and public understandings of other cultural-geographic spaces. The often resulting Eurocentric projection of anthropological imaginations has come under severe pressure while (post)colonial renegotiations in former European colonies, such as many Pacific nations, have caused dramatic changes to anthropological practices through Indigenous curatorial practices. The project 'Assembling the Transpacific: Indigenous Curatorial Practices, Material Cultures and Source Communities' shapes a dialogue between both situations through a multi-sited, collaborative ethnographic investigation of contemporary Indigenous curatorial practices in three Pacific museums (Bishop Museum Hawai’i; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; Museo Rapa Nui, Easter Island). The project generates historically informed, ethnographic insights into ‘the figure of the curator’ as an agent of Indigenous knowledge production and community engagement across the Pacific. In doing so, the project presents Indigenous perspectives that assist in reframing the curatorship of Pacific collections in, and the production of public understandings through, ethnographic museums in Europe.