“James Luna often uses his body as a means to critique the objectification of Native American cultures in Western museum and cultural displays. He dramatically calls attention to the exhibition of Native American peoples and Native American cultural objects in his Artifact Piece, 1985-87. For the performance piece Luna donned a loincloth and lay motionless on a bed of sand in a glass museum exhibition case. Luna remained on exhibit for several days, among the Kumeyaay exhibits at the Museum of Man in San Diego. Labels surrounding the artist’s body identified his name and commented on the scars on his body, attributing them to “excessive drinking.” Two other cases in the exhibition contained Luna’s personal documents and ceremonial items from the Luiseño reservation.
Many museum visitors as they approached the “exhibit” were stunned to discover that the encased body was alive and even listening and watching the museum goers. In this way the voyeuristic gaze of the viewer was returned, redirecting the power relationship.
Through the performance piece Luna also called attention to a tendency in Western museum displays to present Native American cultures as extinct cultural forms. Viewers who happened upon Luna’s exhibition expecting a museum presentation of native American cultures as “dead,” were shocked by the living, breathing, “undead” presence of the luiseño artist in the display. Luna in Artifact Piece places his body as the object of display in order to disrupt the modes of representation in museum exhibitions of native others and to claim subjectivity for the silenced voices eclipsed in these displays. “
I’ve spent the evening looking at PhD programs and so far the only conclusion I’ve come to is that anthropologists cannot write plainly for shit.
Yay! Feminist Anthropology time!
Alongside drawings of bison and horses, the first painters left clues to their identity on the stone walls of caves, blowing red-brown paint through rough tubes and stenciling outlines of their palms. New analysis of ancient handprints in France and Spain suggests that most of those early artists were women.
This is a surprise, since most archaeologists have assumed it was men who had been making the cave art. One interpretation is that early humans painted animals to influence the presence and fate of real animals that they’d find on their hunt, and it’s widely accepted that it was the men who found and killed dinner.
But a new study indicates that the majority of handprints found near cave art were made by women, based on their overall size and relative lengths of their fingers.
"The assumption that most people made was it had something to do with hunting magic," Penn State archaeologist Dean Snow, who has been scrutinizing hand prints for a decade, told NBC News. The new work challenges the theory that it was mostly men, who hunted, that made those first creative marks.
Another reason we thought it was men all along? Male archeologists from modern society where gender roles are rigid and well-defined — they found the art. "[M]ale archaeologists were doing the work," Snow said, and it’s possible that ”had something to do with it.”
I added the emphasis in bold, but the “that” was already italicized in the article, and it’s probably my favorite part. I love this article, although I’m not a huge fan of the fact that it’s considered so incredibly shocking and radical to imagine that women possibly participated in society 40,000 years ago.
In other awesome feminist anthropology news: it is now somewhat accepted that the venus sculptures, rather than being depictions of female beauty by male artists, were self-portraits by women looking down at their own bodies. The paleolithic figurines lose their distorted proportions and acquire representational realism if we understand that they are self-portraits created by women looking down at their own bodies.
See also: This quote by Sandy Toksvig
When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. ‘This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar’ she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’
It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions? How often had I sped past them as I learned of male achievement and men’s place in the history books? Then I read Rosalind Miles’s book The Women’s History of the World (recently republished as Who Cooked the Last Supper?) and I knew I needed to look again. History is full of fabulous females who have been systematically ignored, forgotten or simply written out of the records. They’re not all saints, they’re not all geniuses, but they do deserve remembering.
the willendorf sculpture and others like her were /the first selfies/ and its amazing
The paleolithic figurines lose their distorted proportions and acquire representational realism if we understand that they are self-portraits created by women looking down at their own bodies.
I really, really love this sentence.
People outside the community are often horrified to hear some old-timer say, “No, I won’t tell my stories to the tape recorder. No, I won’t put them on video tape. If these younger folks don’t listen and remember from me, then maybe these stories are meant to end with me.” It’s very tough-minded. It flies in the face of all the anthropologists and people who get moist-eyed over what a good turn they’re doing for the Native American communities by getting down these stories. I tend to align myself with the tougher-minded people. The folks at home will say, “If it’s important, if it has relevance, it will stay regardless of whether it’s on video tape, taped, or written down.” It’s only the western Europeans who have this inflated pompous notion that every word, everything that’s said or done is real important, and it’s got to live on and on forever. And only Americans think that America, which has barely been around 200 years, which is a joke, what a short period of time, only Americans think that we’ll just continue on. It takes a tremendous amount of stupid blind self-love to think that your civilization or your culture will continue on, when all you have to do is look at history and see that civilizations and people a lot better than those building the missile system have disappeared. The people at home who say the story will either live or die are just being honest and truthful.
Imagine if marriage didn’t exist, and you’re a guy asking a woman to get married. Imagine what that conversation would be like (x)
The major finding of our experiments is still shocking. When whites were presented with an argument against the death penalty or three strikes that emphasized the racial bias of the policy, they became more (not less) supportive of capital punishment and three strikes laws.
Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley, political scientists and authors of Justice in America: The Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites, in a recent interview with the Washington Post’s Wonkblog about their academic studies documenting the “separate realities” and perceptions about the US criminal justice system based on race.
The whole interview is worth reading, but I wanted to emphasize this particular passage because it offers a stark and sobering window into white racism: when white people are presented with the notion that the criminal justice system is racist, they become more supportive of the death penalty and mandatory minimums.
To put it even more simply: most white people like the racist imprisonment and execution of Black folks. That’s literally the world that a majority of white people want to live in — a violently racist world — because they believe racist violence makes the world a better place for whites. Most whites support institutional racism, which is why they built it and continue to defend it and maintain it.
Conservator Ashley Lingle prepares to lift the child’s skull with the wooden covering (a bowl perhaps?)-Çatalhöyük
Photographer: Scott Haddow
What a fantastic shot!
I have a dream of publishing a book of photos of archaeologists/anthropologists excavating and calling it “Trench Yoga.”
I’m a sucker for an adorable primate gif.
Dear Colleagues - I need the help of the whole community and for you to reach out to as many related professional groups as possible. We need perhaps three or four individuals with excellent archaeological/palaeontological and excavation skills for a short term project that may kick off as early as November 1st 2013 and last the month if all logistics go as planned. The catch is this – the person must be skinny and preferably small. They must not be clausterphobic, they must be fit, they should have some caving experience, climbing experience would be a bonus. They must be willing to work in cramped quarters, have a good attitude and be a team player. Given the highly specialized, and perhaps rare nature of what I am looking for, I would be willing to look at an experienced Ph.D. student or a very well trained Masters student, even though the more experience the better (PH.D.’s and senior scientists most welcome). No age limit here either. I do not think we will have much money available for pay – but we will cover flights, accommodation (though much will be field accom., food and of course there will be guaranteed collaboration further up the road). Anyone interested please contact me directly on email@example.com copied to my assistant Wilma.firstname.lastname@example.org . My deadlines on this are extremely tight so as far as anyone can spread the word, among professional groups.
OH. MY. GOD. LOOK AT WHAT LEE BERGER JUST POSTED TWO MINUTES AGO GUYS.