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Curating Profusion: Caring for the Future and Assembling Value in Homes and Smaller Museums

Tuesday 17 November 2015, 5.15PM

Speaker(s): Jennie Morgan (University of York)

What do we keep for posterity for future generations – and why?

What do we discard?

What strategies do we craft to care for these things and to ensure their longevity?

This presentation introduces Curating Profusion, a new project exploring such questions as part of the AHRC-funded Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage research programme. Curating Profusion addresses the challenges presented by material abundance from mass production and consumption, the growth of digital media and storage, and a democratization of memory for making selections about what to retain for posterity and how. It examines this in relation to two contexts that face profusion in a particularly acute form: households and smaller museums. By considering why (although unevenly distributed) profusion is such a pressing issue, and setting out an anthropological approach to its study, the presentation argues that exploring future-keeping selections can shed light on how heritage values are being variously assembled across (and perhaps, between) homes and museums, and argues for the need to consider what, precisely, the act of keeping does. In doing so, the paper flags a range of topics that will be further examined in (forthcoming) fieldwork including the affordances of kept-things; interlinkages between homes and museums through museological modes of coping with profusion; and temporalities and futures.

Dr Jennie Morgan is based in the Department of Sociology at the University of York, and is working as an early career researcher on the AHRC-funded Assembling Alternative Futures for Heritage research programme. Trained as a Social Anthropologist, and having worked briefly as a Curator of Pictorial Collections, Jennie is interested in the theory and practice of contemporary museums. She has undertaken research on the relationships between Pacific Islands communities and museums in New Zealand, and an in-depth ethnographic study of museological change and everyday practice at a Scottish museum. Her other interests include workplace safety research; anthropological approaches to knowing; applied, interdisciplinary, and innovative (including sensory and visual) methodologies; and future studies. Her work is published in journals such as Museum and Society, Journal of Material Culture, and Environment and Planning A.

Location: King's Manor / 159

Admission: Free & open to all. Join us for wine at 5.15pm, with talk beginning at 5.30pm. This is a YOHRS (York Heritage Research Seminars) event livestreamed through