Project Title:
A History of the Field Museum's Native American Anthropology Collection and its Influence on Indigenous Cultural Property Rights Movements.
Project Description:
The proposed project explores the global reach and impact that Chicago’s Columbian Field Museum has had in shaping the contemporary rise in political, humanistic and social science discourses surrounding indigenous peoples, their rights, and specifically their demands for greater control of the material and immaterial cultural property held by non-indigenous institutions, including universities and museums like the Field. More specifically, and building on the principal investigator’s over 20 years experience working with the Hopi tribe of Northern Arizona, this project considers the complex and contradictory ways in which the Field Museum’s singular collection of Hopi cultural property, much of which was collected in the earliest years of the Field’s existence, and would later inspire or seed similar collections in Europe and Asia, offers a unique lens into the imbricated lines and networks of indigenous and non-indigenous engagements, with the Field museum and Chicago at its nexus. To the extent that these collections spawned ethnological and artistic/aesthetic archives of Hopi culture, it reveals an important but heretofore overlooked genealogy of the current moment in the politics of indigenous culture and its engagement with the worlds of artistic, scientific, and political inquiry and expression. At a time when it is all too easy to re-produce the ready-to-hand oppositions that pit humanistic, scientific, and political interests against those of indigenous peoples, and for each side to demonize the interests of the other, it is fruitful to ask after the possibility that the story of these engagements and their cross-cutting commitments have never been as clear and distinct as they are made out to be.

Organizer Name:
Justin B. Richland, JD, PhD,
Associate Professor

Organizer's Contact Information:
email: jrichland@uchicago.edu
Address:1126 E. 59th Street , Chicago IL 60637
Phone: 773-702-7736
(NOTE: I am on research leave from the University for the 2014-15 Academic Year.)

Organizer's Departmental and University Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago