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The shell necklace hailing from the southern Australian island of Tasmania entered the museum in 1905. It has never been researched or exhibited.
Photo: Etnografiska museet

Objects of Culture and Science

Research project

Short description

Ethnographic objects are understood as exemplars of culture, but they also capture traces of the time and place from which they emerged, making visible the relationships between humans, non-humans and environments.
This project picks up on such entanglements by exploring the potential for use of ethnographic objects in environmental research. Contemporary issues of ocean acidification, dying kelp forests and eroded coastlines come into focus through the case study of a 115 year old Tasmanian shell necklace. The historic shells provide both cultural and scientific baseline data. By repositioning ethnographic objects as sources of cultural and scientific knowledge, this project explores the opportunity to invite western scientists into museum storehouses, and shines a light on non-Western knowledge systems in communities of origin.