Reflections of a Culture Broker: A View from the Smithsonian

Overview

Is culture brokered like stocks, real estate, or marriage? In this engaging book, Richard Kurin shows that cultures are always mediated and indeed brokered by countries, organizations, communities, and individuals - all with their own vision of the truth and varying abilities to impose it on others. Arguing that cultural exhibits reflect a series of decisions about representing someone, someplace, and something, Reflections of a Culture Broker discusses the ethical and technical problems faced by not only those ...
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Overview

Is culture brokered like stocks, real estate, or marriage? In this engaging book, Richard Kurin shows that cultures are always mediated and indeed brokered by countries, organizations, communities, and individuals - all with their own vision of the truth and varying abilities to impose it on others. Arguing that cultural exhibits reflect a series of decisions about representing someone, someplace, and something, Reflections of a Culture Broker discusses the ethical and technical problems faced by not only those who practice in a museum setting but also anyone charged with representing culture in a public forum.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written by the director of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Studies, this book is not an "official" accounting of Smithsonian policies, activities, and decisions but a personal essay based on firsthand knowledge. Intending to present a sorely needed casebook of professional practice for "culture brokers," Kurin offers a descriptive and analytic view of the process by which various types of major cultural presentations such as exhibits, museums, and festivals are developed, enacted, and situated. Regarding the Enola Gay controversy, he discusses the complex concept of "the search for truth and narrative" within "multiparadigmatic, deconstructed frameworks that make multiple versions of reality a fact of life." Kurin concludes that curation is process-oriented, not static, and is "a proactive effort to serve the public, increase understandability, and use the museum as a vehicle of inter- and intracultural communication." This down-to-earth, enjoyable, and thought-provoking title is highly recommended.Jennifer L.S. Moldwin, Detroit Inst. of Arts Lib.
From the Publisher
Written by the director of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Studies, this book is not an "official" accounting of Smithsonian policies, activities, and decisions but a personal essay based on firsthand knowledge. Intending to present a sorely needed casebook of professional practice for "culture brokers," Kurin offers a descriptive and analytic view of the process by which various types of major cultural presentations such as exhibits, museums, and festivals are developed, enacted, and situated. Regarding the Enola Gay controversy, he discusses the complex concept of "the search for truth and narrative" within "multiparadigmatic, deconstructed frameworks that make multiple versions of reality a fact of life." Kurin concludes that curation is process-oriented, not static, and is "a proactive effort to serve the public, increase understandability, and use the museum as a vehicle of inter- and intracultural communication." This down-to-earth, enjoyable, and thought-provoking title is highly recommended.? (from Library Journal; Jennifer L.S. Moldwin, Detroit Inst. of Arts Lib. Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560987895
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Pages: 315
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Kurin

Richard Kurin, formerly director of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies, is Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Prologue: Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief 1
2 Introduction: Brokering Culture 12
3 Brokering the Smithsonian's 150th Anniversary 29
4 Making a Museum Object 57
5 Exhibiting the Enola Gay 71
6 What's With Anthropology? 83
7 Debating Racially and Culturally Specific Museums 94
8 The Festival on the Mall 109
9 The Festival of India 141
10 Brokering Post-Cold War Folklore 169
11 America's Reunion on the Mall: A Presidential Inaugural 204
12 O Jerusalem! 212
13 Workers' Culture in the White House 218
14 What Is It? The American South at the Olympics 239
15 Conclusion: The New Study and Curation of Culture 265
Notes 287
Index 309
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