Oaxaca is internationally renowned for its marketplaces and archaeological sites where tourists can buy inexpensive folk art, including replicas of archaeological treasures. Archaeologists, art historians, and museum professionals sometimes discredit this trade in “fakes” that occasionally make their way to the auction block as antiquities. Others argue that these souvenirs represent a long cultural tradition of woodcarving or clay sculpting and are “genuine” artifacts of artisanal practices that have been passed from generation to generation, allowing community members to preserve their cultural practices and make a living. Exploring the intriguing question of authenticity and its relationship to cultural forms in Oaxaca and throughout southern Mexico, Between Art and Artifact confronts an important issue that has implications well beyond the commercial realm.
Demonstrating that identity politics lies at the heart of the controversy, Ronda Brulotte provides a nuanced inquiry into what it means to present “authentic” cultural production in a state where indigenous ethnicity is part of an awkward social and racial classification system. Emphasizing the world-famous woodcarvers of Arrazola and the replica purveyors who come from the same community, Brulotte presents the ironies of an ideology that extols regional identity but shuns its artifacts as “forgeries.” Her work makes us question the authority of archaeological discourse in the face of local communities who may often see things differently. A departure from the dialogue that seeks to prove or disprove “authenticity,” Between Art and Artifact reveals itself as a commentary on the arguments themselves, and what the controversy can teach us about our shifting definitions of authority and authorship.
A Wolfson History Prize Finalist
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A Sunday Times Book of the Year
“Timely and authoritative…I enjoyed it immensely.”
“If you care about books, and if you believe we must all stand up to the destruction of knowledge and cultural heritage, this is a brilliant read—both powerful and prescient.”
Libraries have been attacked since ancient times but they have been especially threatened in the modern era, through war as well as willful neglect. Burning the Books describes the deliberate destruction of the knowledge safeguarded in libraries from Alexandria to Sarajevo, from smashed Assyrian tablets to the torching of the Library of Congress. The director of the world-famous Bodleian Libraries, Richard Ovenden, captures the political, religious, and cultural motivations behind these acts. He also shines a light on the librarians and archivists preserving history and memory, often risking their lives in the process.
More than simply repositories for knowledge, libraries support the rule of law and inspire and inform citizens. Ovenden reminds us of their social and political importance, challenging us to protect and support these essential institutions.
“Wonderful…full of good stories and burning with passion.”
“The sound of a warning vibrates through this book.”
“Essential reading for anyone concerned with libraries and what Ovenden outlines as their role in ‘the support of democracy, the rule of law and open society.’”
—Wall Street Journal
“Ovenden emphasizes that attacks on books, archives, and recorded information are the usual practice of authoritarian regimes.”
—Michael Dirda, Washington Post
Collecting Mexico centers on the ways in which aesthetics and commercialism intersected in officially sanctioned public collections and displays in late nineteenth-century Mexico. Shelley E. Garrigan approaches questions of origin, citizenry, membership, and difference by reconstructing the lineage of institutionally collected objects around which a modern Mexican identity was negotiated. In doing so, she arrives at a deeper understanding of the ways in which displayed objects become linked with nationalistic meaning and why they exert such persuasive force.
Spanning the Porfiriato period from 1867 to 1910, Collecting Mexico illuminates the creation and institutionalization of a Mexican cultural inheritance. Employing a wide range of examples—including the erection of public monuments, the culture of fine arts, and the representation of Mexico at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889—Garrigan pursues two strands of thought that weave together in surprising ways: national heritage as a transcendental value and patrimony as potential commercial interest.
Collecting Mexico shows that the patterns of institutional collecting reveal how Mexican public collections engendered social meaning. Using extensive archival materials, Garrigan’s close readings of the processes of collection building offer a new vantage point for viewing larger issues of identity, social position, and cultural/capital exchange.
The Copan Sculpture Museum in western Honduras features the extraordinary stone carvings of the ancient Maya city known as Copan. The city’s sculptors produced some of the finest and most animated buildings and temples in the Maya area, in addition to stunning monolithic statues and altars. The ruins of Copan were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980, and more than 150,000 national and international tourists visit the ancient city each year.
Opened in 1996, the Copan Sculpture Museum was initiated as an international collaboration to preserve Copan’s original stone monuments. Its exhibits represent the best-known examples of building façades and sculptural achievements from the ancient kingdom of Copan. The creation of this on-site museum involved people from all walks of life: archaeologists, artists, architects, and local craftspeople. Today it fosters cultural understanding and promotes Hondurans’ identity with the past.
In The Copan Sculpture Museum, Barbara Fash—one of the principle creators of the museum—tells the inside story of conceiving, designing, and building a local museum with global significance. Along with numerous illustrations and detailed archaeological context for each exhibit in the museum, the book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history and culture of the ancient Maya and a model for working with local communities to preserve cultural heritage.
The contributors describe various forms of cosmopolitan engagement involving sites that span the globe. They take up the links between conservation, natural heritage and ecology movements, and the ways that local heritage politics are constructed through international discourses and regulations. They are attentive to how communities near heritage sites are affected by archaeological fieldwork and findings, and to the complex interactions that local communities and national bodies have with international sponsors and universities, conservation agencies, development organizations, and NGOs. Whether discussing the toll of efforts to preserve biodiversity on South Africans living near Kruger National Park, the ways that UNESCO’s global heritage project universalizes the ethic of preservation, or the Open Declaration on Cultural Heritage at Risk that the Archaeological Institute of America sent to the U.S. government before the Iraq invasion, the contributors provide nuanced assessments of the ethical implications of the discursive production, consumption, and governing of other people’s pasts.
Contributors. O. Hugo Benavides, Lisa Breglia, Denis Byrne, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Alfredo González-Ruibal, Ian Hodder, Ian Lilley, Jane Lydon, Lynn Meskell, Sandra Arnold Scham
Increasingly, the role of heritage management is to anticipate and guide future environmental change rather than to simply protect landscapes of the past. This charge presents a paradox for those invested in the preservation of the past: in order to preserve the historic environment, they have to collaborate with others who wish to change it, and in order to apply their expert knowledge, they must demonstrate its benefits for policy and society. The solution advocated here is an integrative landscape approach that draws on multiple disciplines and establishes links between archaeological-historical heritage and planning and between research and policy.
Preservation has traditionally focused on saving prominent buildings of historical or architectural significance. Preserving cultural landscapes-the combined fabric of the natural and man-made environments-is a relatively new and often misunderstood idea among preservationists, but it is of increasing importance. The essays collected in this volume-case studies that include the Little Tokyo neighborhood in Los Angeles, the Cross Bronx Expressway, and a rural island in Puget Sound-underscore how this approach can be fruitfully applied. Together, they make clear that a cultural landscape perspective can be an essential underpinning for all historic preservation projects.
Contributors: Susan Calafate Boyle, National Park Service; Susan Buggey, U of Montreal; Michael Caratzas, Landmarks Preservation Commission (NYC); Courtney P. Fint, West Virginia Historic Preservation Office; Heidi Hohmann, Iowa State U; Hillary Jenks, USC; Randall Mason, U Penn; Robert Z. Melnick, U of Oregon; Nora Mitchell, National Park Service; Julie Riesenweber, U of Kentucky; Nancy Rottle, U of Washington; Bonnie Stepenoff, Southeast Missouri State U.
Richard Longstreth is professor of American civilization and director of the graduate program in historic preservation at George Washington University.
The protection and accumulation of intellectual property rights—like property rights in general—is one of the most important contemporary American values. In his cogent book, The Cultural Production of Intellectual Property Rights, Sean Johnson Andrews shows that the meaning, power, and value of intellectual properties are the consequence of an extended process of cultural production.
Johnson Andrews argues that it is deeper ideological and historical roots which demand that, in the contemporary global, digital economy, all property rights be held sacrosanct and all value must flow back to the legal owner.
Johnson Andrews explains that if we want to rebalance the protection of copyrights and trademarks, we should focus on undermining the reified culture of property that underpins capitalism as a whole. He outlines a framework for analyzing culture; situates intellectual property rights in the history of capitalist property relations; synthesizes key theories of media, politics, and law; and ultimately provides scholars and activists a path to imagining a different future where we prioritize our collective production of value in the commons.
Transporting readers from derelict homesteads to imperiled harbors, postindustrial ruins to Cold War test sites, Curated Decay presents an unparalleled provocation to conventional thinking on the conservation of cultural heritage. Caitlin DeSilvey proposes rethinking the care of certain vulnerable sites in terms of ecology and entropy, and explains how we must adopt an ethical stance that allows us to collaborate with—rather than defend against—natural processes.
Curated Decay chronicles DeSilvey’s travels to places where experiments in curated ruination and creative collapse are under way, or under consideration. It uses case studies from the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to explore how objects and structures produce meaning not only in their preservation and persistence, but also in their decay and disintegration. Through accessible and engaging discussion of specific places and their stories, it traces how cultural memory is generated in encounters with ephemeral artifacts and architectures.
An interdisciplinary reframing of the concept of the ruin that combines historical and philosophical depth with attentive storytelling, Curated Decay represents the first attempt to apply new theories of materiality and ecology to the concerns of critical heritage studies.
The twentieth century was the most destructive in human history, but from its vast landscapes of ruins was born a new architectural type: the cultural monument. In the wake of World War I, an international movement arose which aimed to protect architectural monuments in large numbers, and regardless of style, hoping not only to keep them safe from future conflicts, but also to make them worthy of protection from more quotidian forms of destruction. This movement was motivated by hopeful idealism as much as by a pragmatic belief in bureaucracy. An evolving group—including architects, intellectuals, art historians, archaeologists, curators, and lawyers—grew out of the new diplomacy of the League of Nations. During and after World War II, it became affiliated with the Allied Military Government, and was eventually absorbed by the UN as UNESCO. By the 1970s, this organization had begun granting World Heritage status to a global register of significant sites—from buildings to bridges, shrines to city centers, ruins to colossi.
Examining key episodes in the history of this preservation effort—including projects for the Parthenon, for the Cathedral of St-Lô, the temples of Abu Simbel, and the Bamyian Buddahs —Lucia Allais demonstrates how the group deployed the notion of culture to shape architectural sites, and how architecture in turn shaped the very idea of global culture. More than the story of an emergent canon, Designs of Destruction emphasizes how the technical project of ensuring various buildings’ longevity jolted preservation into establishing a transnational set of codes, values, practices. Yet as entire nations’ monumental geographies became part of survival plans, Allais also shows, this paradoxically helped integrate technologies of destruction—from bombs to bulldozers—into cultural governance. Thus Designs of Destruction not only offers a fascinating narrative of cultural diplomacy, based on extensive archival findings; it also contributes an important new chapter in the intellectual history of modernity by showing the manifold ways architectural form is charged with concretizing abstract ideas and ideals, even in its destruction.
Situated at the intersection of scholarship and practice, Heritage Keywords positions cultural heritage as a transformative tool for social change. This volume unlocks the persuasive power of cultural heritage—as it shapes experiences of change and crafts present and future possibilities from historic conditions—by offering new ways forward for cultivating positive change and social justice in contemporary social debates and struggles. It draws inspiration from deliberative democratic practice, with its focus on rhetoric and redescription, to complement participatory turns in recent heritage work.
Through attention to the rhetorical edge of cultural heritage, contributors to this volume offer innovative reworkings of critical heritage categories. Each of the fifteen chapters examines a key term from the field of heritage practice—authenticity, civil society, cultural diversity, cultural property, democratization, difficult heritage, discourse, equity, intangible heritage, memory, natural heritage, place, risk, rights, and sustainability—to showcase the creative potential of cultural heritage as it becomes mobilized within a wide array of social, political, economic, and moral contexts.
This highly readable collection will be of interest to students, scholars, and professionals in heritage studies, cultural resource management, public archaeology, historic preservation, and related cultural policy fields.
Contributors include Jeffrey Adams, Sigrid Van der Auwera, Melissa F. Baird, Alexander Bauer, Malcolm A. Cooper, Anna Karlström, Paul J. Lane, Alicia Ebbitt McGill, Gabriel Moshenska, Regis Pecos, Robert Preucel, Trinidad Rico, Cecelia Rodéhn, Joshua Samuels, Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels, and Klaus Zehbe.
How can we effectively interpret and present one culture to another without stereotypes or over-simplifications? What is the best way to present an authoritative version of a national heritage without also endangering ancient sites or being insensitive to the local customs, beliefs, and religious practices of the indigenous peoples?
This volume addresses the ongoing thrust in archaeology to take the next step after preserving the past: interpreting that past for the future. That future audience includes both local citizens and tourists who may have little background in archaeology, anthropology, or the history of the culture featured. Walker presents the key components of the anthropological study of tourism as a global phenomenon, with particular emphasis on the more prominent arguments for how and why tourism is a universal and meaningful human activity. The highly controversial topic of authenticity is examined, with special attention given to how "authentic" has been defined and how it relates to the ways in which archaeological sites, artifacts, and cultural traditions are presented--or not presented--to the visiting public. The ephemeral promise of “authenticity” drives the heritage tourism industry, which is a key consideration for the long term economy of the Maya Riviera and elsewhere. Through analysis of seven archaeological sites on the Yucatan peninsula that are open to heritage touring, Walker reveals the planned growth of the Maya Riviera since the early 1970s and examines the impact of international tourism on both ancient structures and the contemporary Maya people and culture.
Examining the place names, geographical knowledge, and cultural associations of the Kiowa from the earliest recorded sources to the present, Kiowa Ethnogeography is the most in-depth study of its kind in the realm of Plains Indian tribal analysis. Linking geography to political and social changes, William Meadows applies a chronological approach that demonstrates a cultural evolution within the Kiowa community.
Preserved in both linguistic and cartographic forms, the concepts of place, homeland, intertribal sharing of land, religious practice, and other aspects of Kiowa life are clarified in detail. Native religious relationships to land (termed "geosacred" by the author) are carefully documented as well. Meadows also provides analysis of the only known extant Kiowa map of Black Goose, its unique pictographic place labels, and its relationship to reservation-era land policies. Additional coverage of rivers, lakes, and military forts makes this a remarkably comprehensive and illuminating guide.
Legacies of Space and Intangible Heritage is an interdisciplinary exploration of the intersections between the study and management of physical sites and the reproduction of intangible cultural legacies. The volume provides nine case studies that explore different ways in which place is mediated by social, political, and ecological processes that have deep historical roots and that continue to affect the politics of heritage management.
Spaces of human habitation are both historical records of the past and key elements in reproducing the knowledge and values that define lives in the present. Practices, knowledge, and skills that communities recognize as part of their culture—and that a range of legal statutes define as protected intangible heritages—are threatened by increased migration, the displacement of indigenous peoples, and limits on access to culturally or historically significant sites. This volume addresses how different physical environments contribute to the reproduction of cultural forms even in the wake of these processes of displacement and change. Case studies from North and South America reveal a pattern of abandonment and reestablishment of settlements and show how collective memory drives people back to culturally meaningful sites.
This tendency for communities to return to the sites that shaped their collective histories, along with the growing importance granted to intangible heritage, challenges archaeologists and other heritage workers to find new ways of incorporating the cultural legacies that link societies to place into the work of research and stewardship. By examining the politics of cultural continuity through the lenses of archaeology and ethnohistory, Legacies of Space and Intangible Heritage demonstrates this complex relationship between a people’s heritage and the landscape that affects the making of "place."
Contributors: Rani Alexander, Hannah Becker, Minette Church, Bonnie Clark, Chip Colwell, Winifred Creamer, Emiliana Cruz, T. J. Ferguson, Julio Hoil Gutierrez, Jonathan Haas, Saul Hedquist, Maren Hopkins, Stuart B. Koyiyumptewa, Christine Kray, Henry Marcelo Castillo, Anna Roosevelt, Jason Yaeger, Keiko Yoneda
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A Telegraph Editor’s Choice
An Evening Standard “Best Books about London” Selection
In popular imagination, London is a city of fog. The classic London fogs, the thick yellow “pea-soupers,” were born in the industrial age of the early nineteenth century. Christine L. Corton tells the story of these epic London fogs, their dangers and beauty, and their lasting effects on our culture and imagination.
“Engrossing and magnificently researched…Corton’s book combines meticulous social history with a wealth of eccentric detail. Thus we learn that London’s ubiquitous plane trees were chosen for their shiny, fog-resistant foliage. And since Jack the Ripper actually went out to stalk his victims on fog-free nights, filmmakers had to fake the sort of dank, smoke-wreathed London scenes audiences craved. It’s discoveries like these that make reading London Fog such an unusual, enthralling and enlightening experience.”
—Miranda Seymour, New York Times Book Review
“Corton, clad in an overcoat, with a linklighter before her, takes us into the gloomier, long 19th century, where she revels in its Gothic grasp. Beautifully illustrated, London Fog delves fascinatingly into that swirling miasma.”
—Philip Hoare, New Statesman
From an eminent and provocative historian, a wrenching parable of the ravages of colonialism in the South Pacific.
Countless museums in the West have been criticized for their looted treasures, but few as trenchantly as the Humboldt Forum, which displays predominantly non-Western art and artifacts in a modern reconstruction of the former Royal Palace in Berlin. The Forum’s premier attraction, an ornately decorated fifteen-meter boat from the island of Luf in modern-day Papua New Guinea, was acquired under the most dubious circumstances by Max Thiel, a German trader, in 1902 after two decades of bloody German colonial expeditions in Oceania.
Götz Aly tells the story of the German pillaging of Luf and surrounding islands, a campaign of violence in which Berlin ethnologists were brazenly complicit. In the aftermath, the majestic vessel was sold to the Ethnological Museum in the imperial capital, where it has remained ever since. In Aly’s vivid telling, the looted boat is a portal to a forgotten chapter in the history of empire—the conquest of the Bismarck Archipelago. One of these islands was even called Aly, in honor of the author’s great-granduncle, Gottlob Johannes Aly, a naval chaplain who served aboard ships that helped subjugate the South Sea islands Germany colonized.
While acknowledging the complexity of cultural ownership debates, Götz Aly boldly questions the legitimacy of allowing so many treasures from faraway, conquered places to remain located in the West. Through the story of one emblematic object, The Magnificent Boat artfully illuminates a sphere of colonial brutality of which too few are aware today.
From ancient Maya cities in Mexico and Central America to the Taj Mahal in India, cultural heritage sites around the world are being drawn into the wave of privatization that has already swept through such economic sectors as telecommunications, transportation, and utilities. As nation-states decide they can no longer afford to maintain cultural properties—or find it economically advantageous not to do so in the globalizing economy—private actors are stepping in to excavate, conserve, interpret, and represent archaeological and historical sites. But what are the ramifications when a multinational corporation, or even an indigenous village, owns a piece of national patrimony which holds cultural and perhaps sacred meaning for all the country's people, as well as for visitors from the rest of the world?
In this ambitious book, Lisa Breglia investigates "heritage" as an arena in which a variety of private and public actors compete for the right to benefit, economically and otherwise, from controlling cultural patrimony. She presents ethnographic case studies of two archaeological sites in the Yucatán Peninsula—Chichén Itzá and Chunchucmil and their surrounding modern communities—to demonstrate how indigenous landholders, foreign archaeologists, and the Mexican state use heritage properties to position themselves as legitimate "heirs" and beneficiaries of Mexican national patrimony. Breglia's research masterfully describes the "monumental ambivalence" that results when local residents, excavation laborers, site managers, and state agencies all enact their claims to cultural patrimony. Her findings make it clear that informal and partial privatizations—which go on quietly and continually—are as real a threat to a nation's heritage as the prospect of fast-food restaurants and shopping centers in the ruins of a sacred site.
Painting Culture describes in detail the actual practice of painting, insisting that such a focus is necessary to engage directly with the role of the art in the lives of contemporary Aboriginals. The book includes a unique local art history, a study of the complete corpus of two painters over a two-year period. It also explores the awkward local issues around the valuation and sale of the acrylic paintings, traces the shifting approaches of the Australian government and key organizations such as the Aboriginal Arts Board to the promotion of the work, and describes the early and subsequent phases of the works’ inclusion in major Australian and international exhibitions. Myers provides an account of some of the events related to these exhibits, most notably the Asia Society’s 1988 "Dreamings" show in New York, which was so pivotal in bringing the work to North American notice. He also traces the approaches and concerns of dealers, ranging from semi-tourist outlets in Alice Springs to more prestigious venues in Sydney and Melbourne.
With its innovative approach to the transnational circulation of culture, this book will appeal to art historians, as well as those in cultural anthropology, cultural studies, museum studies, and performance studies.
From large cities to rural communities, gay men have long been impassioned pioneers as keepers of culture: rescuing and restoring decrepit buildings, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods, saving artifacts and documents of historical significance. A Passion to Preserve explores this authentic and complex dimension of gay men’s lives by profiling early and contemporary preservationists from throughout the United States, highlighting contributions to the larger culture that gays are exceptionally inclined to make.
A searching account of nineteenth-century salvage anthropology, an effort to preserve the culture of “vanishing” Indigenous peoples through dispossession of the very communities it was meant to protect.
In the late nineteenth century, anthropologists, linguists, archaeologists, and other chroniclers began amassing Indigenous cultural objects—crafts, clothing, images, song recordings—by the millions. Convinced that Indigenous peoples were doomed to disappear, collectors donated these objects to museums and universities that would preserve and exhibit them. Samuel Redman dives into the archive to understand what the collectors deemed the tradition of the “vanishing Indian” and what we can learn from the complex legacy of salvage anthropology.
The salvage catalog betrays a vision of Native cultures clouded by racist assumptions—a vision that had lasting consequences. The collecting practice became an engine of the American museum and significantly shaped public education and preservation, as well as popular ideas about Indigenous cultures. Prophets and Ghosts teases out the moral challenges inherent in the salvage project. Preservationists successfully maintained an important human inheritance, sometimes through collaboration with Indigenous people, but collectors’ methods also included outright theft. The resulting portrait of Indigenous culture reinforced the public’s confidence in the hierarchies of superiority and inferiority invented by “scientific” racism.
Today the same salvaged objects are sources of invaluable knowledge for researchers and museum visitors. But the question of what should be done with such collections is nonetheless urgent. Redman interviews Indigenous artists and curators, who offer fresh perspectives on the history and impact of cultural salvage, pointing to new ideas on how we might contend with a challenging inheritance.
During Mexico's first century of independence, European and American explorers rediscovered its pre-Hispanic past. Finding the jungle-covered ruins of lost cities and artifacts inscribed with unintelligible hieroglyphs—and having no idea of the age, authorship, or purpose of these antiquities—amateur archaeologists, artists, photographers, and religious writers set about claiming Mexico's pre-Hispanic patrimony as a rightful part of the United States' cultural heritage.
In this insightful work, Tripp Evans explores why nineteenth-century Americans felt entitled to appropriate Mexico's cultural heritage as the United States' own. He focuses in particular on five well-known figures—American writer and amateur archaeologist John Lloyd Stephens, British architect Frederick Catherwood, Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the French émigré photographers Désiré Charnay and Augustus Le Plongeon. Setting these figures in historical and cultural context, Evans uncovers their varying motives, including the Manifest Destiny-inspired desire to create a national museum of American antiquities in New York City, the attempt to identify the ancient Maya as part of the Lost Tribes of Israel (and so substantiate the Book of Mormon), and the hope of proving that ancient Mesoamerica was the cradle of North American and even Northern European civilization. Fascinating stories in themselves, these accounts of the first explorers also add an important new chapter to the early history of Mesoamerican archaeology.
In 1966, the most destructive flood in the history of Venice temporarily submerged the city and threatened its extraordinary art and architecture. Among the organizations that mobilized to protect this fragile heritage was Save Venice Inc. Founded in Boston and now headquartered in New York City, this nonprofit has become the largest and most active committee dedicated to preserving the artistic legacy of Venice.
Christopher Carlsmith tells the fascinating story of Save Venice Inc., from its origins to its fiftieth anniversary. It continues to provide an influential model for philanthropy in the cultural sector, raising substantial funds to conserve and restore paintings, sculptures, books, mosaics, and entire buildings at risk from human and environmental impacts. Employing extensive archival research, oral interviews, and newspaper accounts, Save Venice Inc. explores a range of topics, including leadership, conservation projects, fundraising, and educational outreach. Using a range of methodologies from cultural history and art history, Carlsmith traces the achievements and challenges faced by this and other historic preservation organizations and by this unique city on the sea.
At an ecopark in Mexico, tourists pretend to be illegal migrants, braving inhospitable terrain and the U.S. Border Patrol as they attempt to cross the border. At a living history museum in Indiana, daytime visitors return after dark to play fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. In the Mojave Desert, the U.S. Army simulates entire provinces of Iraq and Afghanistan, complete with bustling villages, insurgents, and Arabic-speaking townspeople, to train soldiers for deployment to the Middle East. At a nursing home, trainees put on fogged glasses and earplugs, thick bands around their finger joints, and sandbag harnesses to simulate the effects of aging and to gain empathy for their patients.
These immersive environments in which spectator-participants engage in simulations of various kinds—or “simming”—are the subject of Scott Magelssen’s book. His book lays out the ways in which simming can provide efficacy and promote social change through affective, embodied testimony. Using methodology from theater history and performance studies (particularly as these fields intersect with cultural studies, communication, history, popular culture, and American studies), Magelssen explores the ways these representational practices produce, reify, or contest cultural and societal perceptions of identity.
In a world of relentless and often violent change, what does it take for a culture to survive? Steven Weitzman addresses this question by exploring the "arts of cultural persistence"--the tactics that cultures employ to sustain themselves in the face of intractable realities. Surviving Sacrilege focuses on a famously resilient culture caught between two disruptive acts of sacrilege: ancient Judaism between the destruction of the First Temple (by the Babylonians) in 586 B.C. and the destruction of the Second Temple (by the Romans) in 70 C.E..
Throughout this period Jews faced the challenge of preserving their religious traditions in a world largely out of their control--a world ruled first by the Persians, then by the Hellenistic Seleucid Kingdom, and finally by the Roman Empire. Their struggle to answer this challenge yields insight into the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and creativity of a distinctive period in Jewish history, but one with broad implications for the study of religious and cultural survival.
Detecting something tenaciously self-preserving at the core of the imagination, Weitzman argues that its expression in storytelling, fantasy, imitation, metaphor, and magic allows a culture's survival instinct to maneuver within, beyond, and even against the limits of reality.
This land is your land. When it comes to national monuments, the sentiment could hardly be more fraught. Gold Butte in Nevada, Organ Mountains–Desert Peaks in New Mexico, Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, Cascade–Siskiyou in Oregon and California: these are among the thirteen natural sites McKenzie Long visits in This Contested Land, an eye-opening exploration of the stories these national monuments tell, the passions they stir, and the controversies surrounding them today.
Starting amid the fragrant sagebrush and red dirt of Bears Ears National Monument on the eve of the Trump Administration’s decision to reduce the site by 85 percent, Long climbs sandstone cliffs, is awed by Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings and is intrigued by 4,000-year-old petroglyphs. She hikes through remote pink canyons recently removed from the boundary of Grand Staircase–Escalante, skis to a backcountry hut in Maine to view a truly dark night sky, snorkels in warm Hawaiian waters to plumb the meaning of marine preserves, volunteers near the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States, and witnesses firsthand the diverse forms of devotion evoked by the Rio Grande. In essays both contemplative and resonant, This Contested Land confronts an unjust past and imagines a collaborative future that bears witness to these regions’ enduring Indigenous connections.
From hazardous climate change realities to volatile tensions between economic development and environmental conservation, practical and philosophical issues arise as Long seeks the complicated and often overlooked—or suppressed—stories of these incomparable places. Her journey, mindfully undertaken and movingly described, emphasizes in clear and urgent terms the unique significance of, and grave threats to, these contested lands.
The practical and artistic creations of native peoples permeate everyday life in settler nations, from the design elements on our clothing to the plot-lines of books we read to our children. Rarely, however, do native communities benefit materially from this use of their heritage, a situation that drives growing resistance to what some denounce as "cultural theft."
Who Owns Native Culture? documents the efforts of indigenous peoples to redefine heritage as a proprietary resource. Michael Brown takes readers into settings where native peoples defend what they consider their cultural property: a courtroom in Darwin, Australia, where an Aboriginal artist and a clan leader bring suit against a textile firm that infringes sacred art; archives and museums in the United States, where Indian tribes seek control over early photographs and sound recordings collected in their communities; and the Mexican state of Chiapas, site of a bioprospecting venture whose legitimacy is questioned by native-rights activists.
By focusing on the complexity of actual cases, Brown casts light on indigenous claims in diverse fields--religion, art, sacred places, and botanical knowledge. He finds both genuine injustice and, among advocates for native peoples, a troubling tendency to mimic the privatizing logic of major corporations.
The author proposes alternative strategies for defending the heritage of vulnerable native communities without blocking the open communication essential to the life of pluralist democracies. Who Owns Native Culture? is a lively, accessible introduction to questions of cultural ownership, group privacy, intellectual property, and the recovery of indigenous identities.
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