Aaron Glass

Assistant Professor
Native Peoples of the Northwest Coast
Museums and Anthropology

Ph.D. Anthropology, New York University
M.A. Anthropology, University of British Columbia
B.F.A Studio Art, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design
B.A. Anthropology/Psychology, Reed College

My research focuses on various aspects of First Nations visual art and material culture, media, and performance on the Northwest Coast of North America, both historically and today. Themes recurring in my work include colonialism and indigenous modernities, cultural brokerage and translation, the politics of intercultural exchange and display, discourses of tradition and heritage management, and cultural and intellectual property. My dissertation, along with a companion film, In Search of the Hamat’sa: A Tale of Headhunting, examines the ethnographic representation and performance history of the Hamat’sa or “Cannibal Dance” of the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) of British Columbia. In Fall 2010, I curated, along with my students, the first BGC Focus Gallery exhibit, “Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast.” Current projects include collaborating with the U’mista Cultural Centre to restore and present Edward Curtis’s 1914 silent film, In the Land of the Head Hunters, and to create a critical, annotated, digital edition of Franz Boas's pioneering 1897 monograph on the Kwakwaka'wakw culture. I am a chief editor of the MaterialWorld website. 

Selected Recent Publications:

  • Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtish, the Kwakwaka'wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema (co-edited with Brad Evans). Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2014.
  • “Indigenous Ontologies, Digital Futures: Plural Provenances and the Kwakwaka’wakw collection in Berlin and Beyond.” In Translating Knowledge: Global Perspectives on Museum and Community, ed. Raymond Silverman. London: Routledge (in press, expected 2014).
  • Objects of Exchange: Social and Material Transformation on the Late Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast. (Edited exhibition catalogue) New York: Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Art, Design History, Material Culture (Distributed by Yale University Press). 2011.
  • The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History (co-authored with Aldona Jonaitis). Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2010.
  • “A Cannibal in the Archive: Performance, materiality, and (in)visibility in unpublished Edward Curtis photographs of the Hamat’sa.” Visual Anthropology Review 25(2):128-49. 2009.
  • “Frozen Poses: Hamat’sa dioramas, recursive representation, and the making of a Kwakwaka’wakw icon.” In Christopher Morton and Elizabeth Edwards (eds). Photography, Anthropology, and History: Expanding the Frame. London: Ashgate Press. Pp 89-116. 2009.
  • “Crests on Cotton: ‘Souvenir’ T-shirts and the materiality of remembrance among the Kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia.” Museum Anthropology 31(1):1-18. 2008.


Aaron Glass's courses include:

730 The Social Lives of Things: The Anthropology of Art and Material Culture
740 Native Arts of the Northwest Coast
795 Exhibiting Culture/s: Anthropology In and of the Museum
863 Objects of Colonial Encounter
882 Ethnography and the Material World
Contact Aaron Glass
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