Glass Frontiers: Curating Culture Contact in Oceania of the Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries
In partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, the Bard Graduate Center’s (New York City) exhibition Frontier Shores explores the material record of cross-cultural engagement in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Frontier Shores visually explores how collection both described and pacified the frontier, with a particular focus on European and native contact in Oceania. In the colonial period, European empires expanded their sovereign and commercial reach, intensifying relationships of exchange. This helped shape the predominant discourse on cultural identity, authenticity, and authority. Marginalized peoples adapted to, resisted, or otherwise exerted their own agency in the colonial context, and this is demonstrated through material culture present in the gallery. Crucially, the collector, ethnographer, and museum became the decisive players in the contest of defining the frontier, and those encompassed within it.
This talk will highlight the fraught histories associated with colonialism in Oceania, as well as the material evidence of exchange and adaptation. The process of curating the exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center will also be discussed, including material from five different institutions, and participation of multiple indigenous representatives of the region.
About the Presenter
Dr Shawn Rowlands is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Museum Anthropology at The Bard Graduate Center and the American Museum of Natural History, New York. He was an Indigenous Australia Curatorial Fellow at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University and earned his PhD in Australian History from the University of New England (Australia).