"A gold mine for teaching, and the rarest of ethnographic studies." - Jeffrey Feldman, New York University
A gold mine for teaching and the rarest of ethnographic studies, Butler's study carries us into the heart of one of the most divisive cultural firestorms to ever hit museums. The result is an insider's view of an exhibition as it shapes the lives of real people—forcing them to confront the legacy of colonialism and changing how they see the world and each other.
(Jeffrey Feldman, New York University)|
Shelley Ruth Butler's meticulously researched case study helps us to understand why Into the Heart of Africa, the Royal Ontario Museum's attempt to deconstruct its own history of colonial collecting and exhibition, failed so disastrously—and also why the aftershocks of the bitter controversy that surrounded it continue to be felt throughout the international museum world. Butler's narrative makes for a gripping read, and it offers a sensitive and balanced analysis of the complex interaction of curatorial practice with race politics outside the museum and institutional politics within. This model study is a cautionary tale for those who produce public culture in our increasingly multicultural world. It should be required reading not only for students of museology, public history, and cultural studies but also for museum and heritage professionals.
(Ruth Phillips, Carleton University)