In the Museum Anthropology course students learn about the changing relationship between anthropologists working in museums and the communities from which objects in museums were collected, often called “source communities.” Underlying these changes is the recognition that by sharing information about collections both museums and communities gain a deeper understanding of the objects housed in museums.  For the Museum Anthropology course project, students conduct research on a museum collection and then shared the collection with community members using videoconferencing technology.

Students teams compiled information from field notes and accession records to create an online catalog of plants collected from the Hopi Mesas in 1930s that are curated at the University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. The on-line catalog then served as the basis for conversations between students teams and Hopi farmers. This blog documents the students’ experiences during four phases of the project:

  1. seeing the collection
  2. learning from the anthropologist’s field notes
  3. discussing the plants with Hopi community members
  4. reflecting on what was learned

Lisa C. Young (lcyoung@umich.edu), the course instructor, is the author of the pages of this blog and shares her thoughts on the project here. The student teams wrote the posts for each topic featured in the tabs above.