Shawn C. Rowlands

BGC-AMNH Postdoctoral Fellow in Museum Anthropology

Ph.D Ethnographic History and Material Culture Studies, University of New England
B.A. Hons, Popular Protest and Japanese Folk Lore, University of Queensland
B.A. History, University of Queensland

My research focus is on the relationship between Anthropology and colonial authority, and the ways in which the archaeological and ethnographic record has informed processes of Othering.  I am especially interested in the field of contact histories and material and social adaptation of indigenous people in colonial regimes, and the ways in which this adaptation was misinterpreted or misrepresented by dominant power groups.  My doctoral dissertation focused on the phenomenon of Entanglement in the ethnographic record—the material presence of cross-cultural contact in the artifact—how the Queensland Museum interpreted Australian Aboriginal culture as stagnant and unchanging, and how this informed early nationalist agendas in Federation Australia.  I have a broader interest in the operation of European empires in Oceania and in how they perceived the subjects they governed.  The philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of this from the eighteenth through to the twentieth centuries are key to my research, but I am also interested in the earlier ideological foundations from the middle ages such as the ways in which conceptions of the monstrous have informed European notions of the other.   I have curated museum displays for the Queensland Museum, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography at Harvard University.  I have also taught American History at the University of Queensland, and Anthropology at Harvard University.  I am currently working on a number of diverse articles based on my research at the Peabody Museum, including papers on the influence of European materials on the Aboriginal narcotics trade, bark paintings, and Aboriginal cosmologies.

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