RV-912-4
24 September 2020

Caring Matters | Healing Materialities

PANEL | 10:00 - 12:00 CET | Thursday 24 Sept | Online

During the Caring Matters conference, as as part of the international collaborative research project Taking Care - Ethnographic and World Cultures Museums as Spaces of Care, the Research Center for Material Culture will host a series of panels, workshop and conversations. For the full program, please go to the main page of the conference. 

The panel will be open to the public through Zoom Webinar.

**Check in a couple of days prior to the event for instructions as to how to livestream the event.

This panel focuses on confronting the deeply troubling and troubled histories of our ethnographic institutions, in the hope of fashioning decolonial and non-imperial futures. By taking these institutions as sites, as evidence, to explore the violent workings of colonialism, we want to try to inaugurate more just and equitable futures. This panel then engages how ethnographic museums, with their violent histories, can, or rather must, learn to better care, by  honoring the histories and ongoing aftermaths of such pain. We understand that we can probably never 'care well.'  And, we would be tragically and disrespectfully remiss were we not to try. We must welcome caring as an inconclusive practice, which constantly demands that we nurture humility in our relationships to our museums' materialities: as objects, with histories, heritages, and communities. 

Image: Kapa barkcloth, Polynesia / Hawaii, before 1892. As in other parts of Polynesia, barkcloths were used for garments such as wrapskirts, loincloths, and warm cloaks and blankets. images of gods were also clothed in white barkcloth and the dead were buried wrapped in barkcloth. Hawaiian barkcloth "kapa", was mainly made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree called "wauke" (Broussonetia papyrifera) that was cultivated especially for this purpose. Imported European blankets and textiles for apparel soon replaced traditional barkcloth after their introduction in Hawaii, although the making of fine ceremonial cloths for ritual exchanges continued for some time. At the end of the nineteenth century, the production of barkcloth had become completely extinct. Today, Hawaiian barkcloth-making is revived by women who study ancient Hawaiian barkcloths in museum collections and receive instructions from Tongan, Samoan, and Fijian women.

Puawai Cairns

Puawai Cairns (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga) is Acting Director of Audience and Insights at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, but has been the Head of Mātauranga Māori for two years, leading the Māori curatorial team and the Māori collection. She specialises in contemporary social history research, curating and collecting to reflect the stories of Māori communities, and has co-authored a book on protest material culture, called “Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance” (Te Papa Press) which has recently won the prize for Best Illustrated Non-fiction at the 2020 NZ Ockham Book Awards. Puawai has worked as a curator on numerous projects, and advises nationally and internationally on museums and curatorial practice. She has a particular interest in contributing to the debates that surround decolonisation and indigenisation, and is focused on growing and enhancing Māori representation and participation across the New Zealand heritage and arts sectors .  

Puawai