Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Who Should Tell History: The Tribes or the Museums?

The New York Times -- EDWARD ROTHSTEINWho Should Tell History: The Tribes or the Museums?:

"Museums always make use of the past for the sake of the present. They collect it, shape it, insist on its significance. When that past is also prehistoric, when its objects come to the present without written history and with jumbled oral traditions, a museum can even become the past's primary voice.

"But what if that prehistoric past is also claimed by some as a living heritage? Then disagreements about interpretation develop into battles over the museum's very function."

This is a basic issue on the nature of knowledge. My answer of course is that both the members of the living culture and outsiders bringing social science to the study of a cultures history should express their views, and credibiiltiy should be assigned to these views by others according to the needs of the situation.

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