Public programs facilitate dialogue between academics and professionals, informing scholarship and strengthening practice.

Multiple day conferences, year-long colloquia, individual lectures, “conversations” between individuals, hands-on workshops, and Museums at Noon talks featuring our graduate students all contribute to the remarkable richness of MSP offerings.

Video recordings of some MSP lectures are archived for viewing in our Media Gallery.

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Narrative and Nationalism: Islamic Science in American Museum Practice

November 17, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Presentation by Amanda Respess, PhD candidate, Anthropology and History

Friday,  November 17 from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, UM Museum of Art auditorium


Narrative and Nationalism: Islamic Science in American Museum Practice

Artifacts important to the history of science in Islamicate societies occupy peculiar ground in American museums, often having trajectories in collections and exhibits that obscure, rather than clarify, their provenance and significance. Islamicate societies from the eighth century to the early modern period authored scientific advancements in an astonishing number of fields, producing a multitude of objects now housed in museum collections around the world. These objects are, however, often conspicuously absent in American science museums; they are instead scattered among the collections of American art museums, where their scientific importance is often sidelined.

This talk, centered on a discussion of the Smithsonian, examines the historical context of the acquisition of these objects and their itineraries through American collections and exhibitions, which have offered a variety of narrative techniques used to assign them meanings while on display. What emerges from this analysis is a history of nation-building in American museums that tells a very particular story about the nature of science, and about who and what can be considered its legitimate stakeholders, or claim it as a cultural inheritance.


Museums at Noon_Respess


November 17, 2017
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category: