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Commemoration as Critique: Exhibiting Campus Archaeology During Stanford 125

Date and Time: 
Thursday, October 13, 2016. 05:00 AM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center; Building 500, Room 106
Workshop: 
Archaeological Histories and Futures
Meeting Description: 

Three exhibits currently on view at the Stanford Archaeology Center showcase archaeology on Stanford campus lands to coincide with the university’s 125th anniversary. They are unified by the theme Before Stanford and expand inherited histories of Stanford’s founding. These installations also exemplify a persistent challenge in heritage interpretation: how do we critique dominant exclusionary narratives without alienating some of the constituencies we serve? The Before Stanford exhibit group models a path forward in this crucial disciplinary project. Details of these exhibits reveal how a carefully constructed curatorial process allowed students to put concepts of decolonization, materiality, polysemy, and semiosis into practice to produce a new, critical consideration of their own community’s “founding.” This case study invites further reflection on how even commemorative exhibitions can serve as disruptive heritage practice.

Christina J. Hodge (PhD, Boston University) is Academic Curator and Collections Manager of the Stanford University Archaeology Collections of the Stanford Archaeology Center (SUAC), a museum quality collection of over thirty thousand cultural objects from California and around the world. She is responsible for daily operations and long-term planning across all areas of collections work, providing expertise, vision, and strategic thinking in curation, collections management, exhibition, outreach, and teaching. Before leading SUAC in its new vision of “connections through collections,” she worked for fourteen years in curation and repatriation at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Hodge publishes and presents in the fields of anthropological, interpretive, and social archaeologies and museum anthropology. Her current research interests include material practices of institutional affiliation, problematics of authenticity in anthropological collecting, synesthetics in collections-based research, and masculine intimacy and privilege in early America.

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