Return to search

Examination of the systems of authority of three Canadian museums and the challenges of aboriginal peoples

In order to illustrate why museums are frequently sites of conflict and
mediation, this dissertation examines the complex conditions under which
knowledge is produced and disseminated at three Canadian museums.
Approaching museums as social arenas or contact zones, the dissertation exposes
power struggles in museums and dislodges a whole set of assumptions about what
museums are and how they function.
For the study I selected the following museums with anthropological
mandates: MacBride Museum (Whitehorse), Prince of Wales Northern Heritage
Centre (Yellowknife), and Vancouver Museum (Vancouver). The three museums
were chosen because their geographical proximity to large communities of
Aboriginal Peoples enabled an exploration of the changing relationships between
them. Historically, museums have held the power to classify and define Aboriginal
Peoples. Relatively recently, however Aboriginal Peoples have in various ways
(by imposing constraints on how they and their cultures are exhibited, and through
land claims and repatriation requests) been challenging their historic relationships
with museums.
In chapter one I discuss my objectives, methodology, and the work of those
scholars who shaped this dissertation. Chapter two explores the invention of
museums in the western world and begins linking the three Canadian museums
with knowledge and power. In chapters three, four, and five I portray the mobility
and productivity of three museums (MacBride Museum, PWNHC, and Vancouver
Museum) in three distinct regions of Canada. I illustrate their ability to articulate
identity, power, and tradition as well as the role they perform in the social
organization of power relations. Each chapter begins with a description of the
historical roots of power relations at each institution. This leads into a discussion
of each museum's present system of authority: the state, governing bodies, professional staff and, increasingly, Aboriginal representatives. In the process I
reveal some of the political pressures, institutional hierarchies, and personal
conflicts that shape knowledge within these institutions.
Chapter six is a review and critical analysis of systems of authority of the
three museums and the challenges presented by Aboriginal Peoples. I conclude
with the issues raised at the outset, which continue to confront the Canadian
museum community, issues of inclusion and the limitations of cross-cultural
translation, repatriation, and representation.
Date11 1900
CreatorsMattson, Linda Karen
Source SetsLibrary and Archives Canada ETDs Repository / Centre d'archives des thèses électroniques de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
RelationUBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project []

Page generated in 0.002 seconds