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pamela masik and the forgotten exhibition: Controversy and Cancellation at the Museum of Anthropology

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Abstract

This paper examines the exhibition process behind Pamela Masik's The Forgotten at the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology. Set to open in February 2011, the exhibition featured 69 portraits of missing and murdered women from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Masik's work is highly controversial, and the museum chose not to proceed with the exhibition after local Aboriginal activists from the Women's Memorial March intercepted the curatorial process. I argue that the way the museum staff negotiated the collaborative process reflects a contact zone mentality that has been deeply internalized in museums. This normalization of conflict poses the risk of negatively affecting relationships with communities and ought to be rethought by those in the field. [missing women, Downtown Eastside Vancouver, contact zones, controversy, colonialism, Women's Memorial March, Pamela Masik]

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