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CuratopiaMuseums and the future of curatorship$
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Philipp Schorch and Conal McCarthy

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526118196

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526118196.001.0001

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Curating the uncommons: taking care of difference in museums

Curating the uncommons: taking care of difference in museums

(p.227) 14 Curating the uncommons: taking care of difference in museums

Billie Lythberg

Wayne Ngata

Amiria Salmond

Manchester University Press

Current ontological critiques point to how discourses of diversity like multiculturalism help domesticate difference by making it fit into pre-determined categories, such as those we are accustomed to thinking of as cultures. These ways of conceiving relations within and between groups of people—common to anthropology and museums, as well as to liberal democratic regimes of governance—assert that differences between peoples are relatively superficial in that our cultures overlay a fundamental and universal sameness. Museums showcasing cultural artefacts have thus helped domesticate difference by promoting world-making visions of (natural) unity in (cultural) diversity. Yet some artefacts exceed the categories designed to contain them; they oblige thought and handling beyond the usual requirements of curatorial practice. This chapter considers the challenges of ‘curating the uncommons’ in relation to work carried out by and with the Māori tribal arts management group Toi Hauiti and their ancestor figure, Paikea, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Keywords:   Multiculturalism, Museums, Uncommons, Māori, Curatorship

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