October 10, 2013
Robert Preucel, director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, is the speaker for our October 10 Academy in Context dinner-seminar, entitled “Can Culture be Owned?: Politics, NAGPRA, and The National Museum of the American Indian.”
Preucel will lead a discussion on repatriation as a cultural movement with a focus on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This act, passed into law in 1990, provides a way for federally recognized tribes to repatriate ancestral human remains and certain categories of objects, including sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony. He will explore how the circulation of objects in different social contexts produces new meanings and practices.
Preucel comes to Brown from the University of Pennsylvania where he most recently served as chair of the Department of Anthropology and curator-in-charge of the American section of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He is well-known for his contributions to archaeological theory, including Contemporary Archaeology in Theory (Blackwell, 1996) which is widely used as a textbook. Working towards one of his goals, to make the Haffenreffer's collections more accessible to students, faculty, and the public, he has already established a faculty fellows program that awards a stipend to faculty for using the museum’s collections for teaching.
This Academy in Context dinner-seminar is part of a series intended to foster discussion of ethical issues across the disciplines. The purpose of the program is not to draw definitive conclusions or identify "right" answers, but rather to explore the ethical challenges that are raised from a variety of perspectives. It is open to graduate students and postdoctoral appointees, and is hosted by the Dean of the Graduate School.