Scientific racism, mass collecting, and NAGPRA : a study of the transformation of relationships between museums, anthropology, and the public from the late 19th century to the 21st century.


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Humankind has collected materials and remains for centuries as a way to depict social status, educate, and fascinate. The relationships between anthropologists and museums in the late 19th and early 20th century set the foundation for both disciplines to make their mark in academia and public discourse. As public fascination with the “other” and racial differences took the center stage in the minds of many Americans, museum exhibitions highlighting Native American cultures and other cultures that anthropologists deemed “savage” or “less civilized” became a normalized practice. Numerous museums around the country amassed large collections of human remains to study using methods such as craniometrics and cranial morphology to compare racial anatomy. This thesis highlights the history of American anthropology, museums, and scientific racism as well as seeks to understand how the passage of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) affected the relationships between museums, anthropologists, the public, and Native Americans from 1990 to the present.



Racism. NAGPRA. Anthropology. Collecting. Museums. Peabody. Colorado.