Man sharing a hongi with Pukaki upon the ancestor’s return from the Auckland Museum to the Ngati Whakaue of Rotorua, New Zealand, 1997. Courtesy New Zealand Herald and Paul Tapsell (Pukaki: A Comet Returns, 1997).

This event is part of “Conserving Active Matter: A Cultures of Conservation Research Project,” a collaboration between Bard Graduate Center, the Humboldt University (Berlin), and the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam). This initiative aims to bring new developments in materials science and new ways of thinking about matter to create new ways of thinking about the future of conservation. The project is articulated through semester-themed explorations along four axes: Indigenous ontologies (spring 2018), history (fall 2018), materials science (spring 2019), and philosophy (fall 2019).

The Indigenous ontologies working group considers the fact that diverse peoples of the world bring their own cultural values and orientations to the material realm: their own fundamental notions of what “the object” is and isn’t; what its proper and persistent relationships to humans and other-than-human beings might be; what protocols surround its conservation, if indeed it ought to be preserved at all. Thinking globally, we explore cases where Indigenous ontologies of “Active Matter” expand western scientific, aesthetic and philosophical paradigms around the collection, care, and exhibition of living cultural heritage—tangible and otherwise.

Speakers will include Sanchita Balachandran, Associate Director, The Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, and Senior Lecturer, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Rose Evans, Director of the ObjectLab, Auckland, New Zealand; and Jamie Jacobs, Collections Assistant for the Rock Foundation, Rochester Museum and Science Center. Moderated by Aaron Glass, Associate Professor, Bard Graduate Center.

This event is part of our Cultures of Conservation initiative, supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.