The presentation of identity in museum culture
Becker, Lisa. 2019. The presentation of identity in museum culture -- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.49, p.59-65
The study of material culture is often affiliated with that of museum studies, both of which, comparatively speaking, are relatively young disciplines that have the ability to alter the personal identities and affiliations of global audiences. The initial intent behind the creation of these disciplines were to create categories to marginalize and hierarchize cultures that were of non-Western origin at the "height of their primitivism" and compare them to that of the highly evolved culture of European society. As this ideology was dominant for quite some time, it became prevalent for museums as well as individuals to create a distinction between the "self" and the "other". While the implementation of this ideology has gradually fallen out of favor, contemporary academics have not only had to salvage the reputation of non-Western cultures by educating others to view them in a more objective manner, they must adjust the field to fit the possible ideologies of the future. For many, Bourdieu is vital to understanding the past as a way to prepare for the future and yet, they should not be satisfied with the mere identification of a problem. Understandably, there are many factors that must be carefully considered prior to potentially applying programs that Bourdieu alone cannot contribute; by utilizing the work of anthropologists like Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Lila Abu-Lughod, the system of collection, preservation, curation, and interpretation of the future may have the potential to benefit all. In this paper, I will attempt to highlight the milestones of museum and material culture in chronological order while addressing the concerns of modern academics using Bourdieu, Scheper-Hughes, and Abu-Lughod to prepare for where the discipline could head in the future.