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Can Museums Help Sustain Indigenous Identity?—Reflections from Melanesia

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Can indigenous museums serve any useful purpose outside the traditional Western imperial setting? The southwest Pacific is used to test the case. A number of approaches are considered: indigenous curation; indigenous motivation; indigenous audiences; and indigenous concepts relating to methods and character of collecting and display. Cultural centers seem particularly appropriate institutions to display art and ceremonial objects and to insert new cultural and political dimensions into the venues. However, there are also a number of problems associated with such display in terms of copyright and the right to see. Curators throughout the Pacific have to negotiate these issues in the displays that they mount. But, it is argued, the results can sustain new forms of sociation and cultural exchange.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2004

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