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Heterotopic Dissonance in the Museum Representation of Pacific Island Cultures



    1. University of Washington
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    • MIRIAM KAHN is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Asian and Pacific Ethnology, Thomas Burke Memorial Washington State Museum, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195.


Two exhibits, the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples at the American Museum of Natural History (1971) and Traveling the Pacific at the Field Museum of Natural History (1989), are compared. Foucault's concept of heterotopia is used to examine why, in spite of major recent changes in museum philosophy and technology, the subtexts of the two exhibits remain remarkably similar. Both confuse spatial distance with temporal flow, creating an incoherent framework of disjunctive orders.

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