James Clifford will be coming to speak in the Indigenous Arts in Transition Seminar Wednesday, October 13, 2010, on “The Second Life of Heritage.”

James Clifford is a professor in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has taught since 1978 and was Chair from 2004 to 2007. He received his A.B. from Haverford College, his M.A. from Stanford University and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has been Visiting Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, University College London and Yale University. Professor Clifford has been the recipient of a number of awards and honors including, the Guggenheim Fellowship at Stanford University Humanities Center in 2007, an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Haverford College in 2004 and in 2003 he was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor in the Humanities by University of California, Santa Cruz. This year he is the Ushiba Distinguished Scholar at International House in Tokyo.

Dr. Clifford is the author of four books: On the Edges of Anthropology (2003); Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (1997); The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (1988); and Person and Myth: Maurice Leenhardt in the Melanesian World (1982). He is also co-editor of: Traveling Theories, Traveling Theorists (1989) edited with Vivek Dhareshwar; Writing Culture: the Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (1986), edited with George Marcus; and Michel Leiris: New Translations (1986), a special issue of Sulfur: A Literary Tri-Quarterly.

Dr. Clifford’s talk is entitled “The Second Life of Heritage” and draws on research recently conducted in Kodiak Alaska at the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository. The museum is a Native administered cultural center engaged in a variety of heritage renewal programs. In 2008 a collection of ceremonial masks from the Kodiak region - acquired in 1870 by a young French linguist and stored ever since in a French provincial museum - returned on loan to the Alutiiq Museum. These very rare masks, of enormous iconic value for a culture that had been devastated by Russian and United States colonization, play a new role in the process of “heritage” revival. This talk will describe (with photographic illustrations) the masks’ return, and explore the second life of heritage in which these repatriated artifacts are now major actors. General questions concerning the politics of heritage and indigenous renewal will be raised: differing visions of authenticity and historicity; colonial legacies and indigenous futures; complex relations with capitalism and post-modern formations of identity. The talk will argue that the meanings of the masks today, the ruptures and continuities they embody, are ambivalent, productive and unfinished.

Please join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.