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Document Type(s):Book Chapter
Book Title:Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display
Article/Chapter Title:Cultural Conservation through Representation: Festival of India Folklife Exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution
Editor(s):Karp, Ivan; Levine, Stephen D
Author(s):Kurin, Richard
Publisher Name:Smithsonian Institution Press
Place of Publication:Washington, DC
Date of Publication:1991
Annotation:Challenging the conception of museums as apolitical institutions devoted to the exhibition of objects and artifacts, Kurin argues that museums are socio-political institutions that can help to conserve living cultures by providing arenas for “the practice of cultural representation.” To demonstrate this potential, he uses two exhibitions hosted by the Smithsonian Institution in 1985, “Aditi: A Celebration of Life” and “Mela! An Indian Fair,” in which Indian activists and street artists collaborated with museum staff, volunteers, and scholars to present an “ethnographically real” cultural exhibition that involved an “inversion and leveling” of status among the various collaborators and helped to legitimate the culture of street artists.
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