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Adam Kuper at Harvard Book Store

April 22 @ 7:00 pm

 |  FREE


April 22
7:00 pm
Event Categories:


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States


Harvard Book Store
(617) 661-1515

The Museum of Other People: From Colonial Acquisitions to Cosmopolitan Exhibitions

Harvard Book Store welcomes ADAM KUPER—fellow of the British Academy and a recipient of the Huxley Medal of the Royal Anthropological Institute—for a discussion of his new book The Museum of Other People: From Colonial Acquisitions to Cosmopolitan Exhibitions. He will be joined in conversation by ROBERT P. WELLER—Professor of Anthropology at Boston University and author of How Things Count as the Same and Religion and Charity.

About The Museum of Other People

In this deeply researched, immersive history, Adam Kuper tells the story of how foreign and prehistoric peoples and cultures were represented in Western museums of anthropology. Originally created as colonial enterprises, their halls were populated by displays of plundered art, artifacts, dioramas, bones, and relics. Kuper reveals the politics and struggles of trying to build these museums in Germany, France, and England in the mid-19th century, and the dramatic encounters between the very colorful and eccentric collectors, curators, political figures, and high members of the church who founded them. He also details the creation of contemporary museums and exhibitions, including the Smithsonian, the Harvard’s Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, and the famous 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago which was inspired by the Paris World Fair of 1889.

Despite the widespread popularity and cultural importance of these institutions, there also lies a murky legacy of imperialism, colonialism, and scientific racism in their creation. Kuper tackles difficult questions of repatriation and justice, and how best to ensure that the future of these museums is an ethical, appreciative one that promotes learning and cultural exchange.

A stunning, unique, accessible work based on a lifetime of research, The Museum of Other People reckons with the painfully fraught history of museums of natural history, and how curators, anthropologists, and museumgoers alike can move forward alongside these time-honored institutions.