Co-authoring Relationships: Blackfoot Collections, UK Museums, and Collaborative Practice

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Abstract

Ceremonial leaders from the four Blackfoot Nations of Siksika, Piikani, Kainai and the Blackfeet work together to pursue the shared goal of accessing museum collections for the collective good of their communities. They also favor an approach which draws on Blackfoot concepts of consensus to allow them to make meaningful relationships with museum workers. This article focuses on the Blackfoot Collections in UK Museums Network, which has aimed to generate and exchange knowledge about little-studied Blackfoot cultural items in British collections. In order to undertake this work, the network established a way of working shaped by Blackfoot concepts of co-existence and practices of relationship-building, as well as by current approaches in museum anthropology which foreground dialogic models yet acknowledge their limitations. Through an ethnographic discussion of the network’s reciprocal meetings, held between 2013 and 2015 in Blackfoot territory in Alberta, Canada, and Montana, US, and in museums in southern England, I examine how Blackfoot practices of co-authoring relationships can shape new relations with museum staff who are critically evaluating the possibilities for collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-148
Number of pages32
JournalCollaborative Anthropologies
Volume9
Issue number1/2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2017

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coexistence
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Keywords

  • museums
  • Blackfoot
  • repatriation
  • consensus

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Co-authoring Relationships : Blackfoot Collections, UK Museums, and Collaborative Practice. / Brown, Alison K.

In: Collaborative Anthropologies, Vol. 9, No. 1/2, 31.03.2017, p. 117-148.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Ceremonial leaders from the four Blackfoot Nations of Siksika, Piikani, Kainai and the Blackfeet work together to pursue the shared goal of accessing museum collections for the collective good of their communities. They also favor an approach which draws on Blackfoot concepts of consensus to allow them to make meaningful relationships with museum workers. This article focuses on the Blackfoot Collections in UK Museums Network, which has aimed to generate and exchange knowledge about little-studied Blackfoot cultural items in British collections. In order to undertake this work, the network established a way of working shaped by Blackfoot concepts of co-existence and practices of relationship-building, as well as by current approaches in museum anthropology which foreground dialogic models yet acknowledge their limitations. Through an ethnographic discussion of the network’s reciprocal meetings, held between 2013 and 2015 in Blackfoot territory in Alberta, Canada, and Montana, US, and in museums in southern England, I examine how Blackfoot practices of co-authoring relationships can shape new relations with museum staff who are critically evaluating the possibilities for collaboration.",
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note = "The Blackfoot Collections in UK Museums Network (2013-2015) was funded by The Leverhulme Trust (grant IN-2013-009). Dr. Peter Loovers was the Network Facilitator and his assistance has been invaluable. I also thank colleagues David Laing and Susan Mitchell for administrative support. The staff of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter did so much to make this project happen and particular thanks go to Dr. Anita Herle, Rachel Hand, Dr. Jocelyne Dudding, and Tony Eccles. Dr. Stephanie Pratt offered sound advice throughout the project. Charlene Wolfe, John Murray, Carol Murray, Herman Yellow Old Woman, Kent Ayoungman, Alvine Mountain Horse, Charlie Russell continue to support the network in different ways and I am truly grateful to them all. I also thank those of the above-named colleagues who read and commented on earlier drafts of this article. Dr. Gerald T. Conaty, Director of Indigenous Studies at the Glenbow Museum and an advisor to the network in its early days, passed away in 2013. In 2015, Frank Weasel Head and Narcisse Blood also passed away, as, in 2016, did Allan Pard. Readers who knew these men personally, or are familiar with their work, will recognize how influential they have all been on my thinking. This article is dedicated to their memory.",
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