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ERIC Number: EJ1033439
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
Presencing Culture: Ethnology Museums, Objects, and Spaces
Gaudelli, William; Mungur, Amy
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v36 n1 p40-54 2014
Ethnology museums are pedagogical. As educators attempting to make sense of how museums teach about the world, the authors of this article are especially interested in how ethnology museums curate otherness through objects, texts, and spaces, and how these combine to present a narrative of others. Ellsworth has referred to this as the "pedagogical address of the museum," which includes analyzing whose stories are authorized, how those identities are represented, and what is made of those representations by visitors (Ellsworth 2005). In this article the authors examine a variety of pedagogical concerns related to the use of objects in museums, including the materials that bring a thing into presence in a museum and the attendant absence this presence implies, the interpretive space that surrounds objects in museums, and the necessary distortion that objects create in their effort to conjure another, displaced reality. These pedagogical concerns are not unique to objects, of course, as any representation such as words, images, and sounds bear similar burdens. But they focus on museums because they are understood as a significant place of objects and, as such, offer a repository of insights that can be brought to bear on other institutions, such as schools. After this survey of issues, the authors consider what can be gleaned from how presencing works with objects and museums in order to apply these practices to the work of educators and researchers of education. They conclude that if we can observe how ethnology museums are parasitic on our urge to possess objects as stand-ins for knowledge, and how that has been tempered by museums themselves in the past two decades, then we have a great deal to gain about how people come to knowledge differently. The critique of ethnology museums' efforts to make distant others present can be engaged to allow an earnest reflection on the dissemination practices of educational research and the interpretive bind in which work is found. If we can consider how any object, removed from an ontological terrain that has plasticity and is yet uniquely congruent with a moment in time and place, then we can learn much while recalling that there is much we cannot know. And if we can consider how we make objects of others in our efforts to write, then there is even more insight to be gained about the limits of our claims and the possibilities that exist through that recognition. Herein lies the hope for social science, to pedagogically encounter all that we attempt to explain and know.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A