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Curating in a Time of Mass Extinction - Shared screen with speaker view
Hannah-Lee Chalk
17:53
Keep on getting 'internet connection unstable' notices so will turn off my video once I've been introduced!
Rebecca Machin
18:35
I'm not being allowed to umute!
Rebecca Machin
18:38
unmute
Dominic O'Key
19:33
Can you do it now Rebecca?
Rebecca Machin
19:43
Yes, thank you!
Hannah-Lee Chalk
21:18
I have a message saying the host is not allowing me to unmute!
Dominic O'Key
21:36
Resolved now?
Hannah-Lee Chalk
21:51
Yes!
stefan skrimshire
23:13
For those who have just joined us: part of this project is a special edition of the contemporary art and writing platform, Corridor8, entitled facing Extinction. The book asks "What does it actually mean to people from different backgrounds, experiences and stages of life, to face extinction?”Copies of facing Extinction are available, for free, on a first come, first served basis, while supplies last. To register your interest, please complete this short form.
stefan skrimshire
23:34
form is here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeltqqaNmseEcD4JMiXK-_GvVKRYaxV9eJReW2evUmL2YTUrQ/viewform
Dominic O'Key
30:04
Great points Hannah-Lee
Matthew Carter
31:03
Dølly raised some really interesting points about the shifting ways in which the remains of extinct species have been displayed in museums. The idea of extinct animal remains as ‘relics’ evokes the idea of the species histories of recently extinct animals as ‘hagiographies’. To what extent does the panel think that the treatment of extinction as a tragedy, and resulting engagements with romantic notions of loss and mourning, are necessary for garnering popular support for environmental and ecological conservation? Additionally, do you think engaging with zoological museum exhibits and exhibitions as historical objects in their own right can help to highlight contemporary discussions about conservation, biodiversity loss etc?
stefan skrimshire
34:03
Great - keep the questions coming and I’ll do my best to collate and put to the panel in the second half.
Laurence Payot
36:13
Rebecca very powerful thoughts and completely agree that maybe there is no time to be careful, museums need to be brave. And we all do!
Rebecca Machin
36:46
Thank you Laurence! Your comments about sound ad music earlier resonated with my thoughts on that too!
Cristina Torrente
38:18
Great point about engaging new people or just sending the message to people who are already engaged. So important to reflect about this.
Michelle Nijhuis
41:54
excellent point about the colonial history of many museum collections vis a vis the colonial history of many extinctions!
stefan skrimshire
42:50
An interesting article in today’s Guardian about the need for museums to resist colonial legacy:https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/15/the-uk-government-is-trying-to-draw-museums-into-a-fake-culture-war
Matthew Carter
44:48
The discussion of the colonial element of many museum collections raised some great questions as to how to discuss different human-animal relationships in different parts of the world and how to negotiate nuanced discussions regarding different, exploitative relationships between different human cultures and their animal neighbours. It would be really interesting to discuss how we give nuance to discussing the use of animals by different groups whilst also staying true to aims surrounding the promotion of conservation and biodiversity.
stefan skrimshire
46:19
My question to the panel: which groups of people do museums consistently struggle to engage with / reach out to (on this issue but also others), and why do we think that is / what can we do about it?
Dave Pritchard
46:32
Interested in how this discussion links to the preceding one about arts projects. Are you keen to be quite “literal” about this subject (as I'm hearing so far), or is there interest also (in the museums sphere) in exploring it in a more metaphorical / philosophical / political way..? (Analogy with extinction of languages, for example, associated loss of biocultural diversity, traditional environmental knowledge etc).
Matthew Carter
46:44
Siobhan raises some great points re: reinterpretation- to what extent could historicising old nature displays help to keep them relevant to modern ecological and environmental concerns?
stefan skrimshire
49:08
thanks for raising that Dave: some of the scholars on this project are looking at extinction of (indigenous) languages and its link to extinction to peoples and their habitats.
Miranda Cichy
49:39
I find the witness position very interesting - completely agree that we need to think about how we might "bear witness" to extinction, but we also need to recognise our other roles as perpetrator, and also victim, of biodiversity loss.
Rosie Cooper
49:44
I am also very interested in engaging new audiences in this topic. Particularly those from lower socio economic backgrounds with little science capital (it is my expectation and observation that environ messages are perhaps not as urgent as the possible daily struggles this audience may be experiencing). Is anyone aware of any projects/research regarding this audience in particular and environmental messaging?
Dominic O'Key
55:50
Picking up on Rosie’s question above, I’d be interested to hear whether telling stories of extinction (and global heating too) are more difficult in the US. In the USA, climate change denial has been structurally entrenched within existing socio-economic class factions. It has become a partisan issue in which people say “we’re not the kinds of people who believe in climate change”. This isn’t as much the case in the UK. (Hope this comes across clearly to everyone. I can elaborate if needed.)
Dave Pritchard
57:55
How are you navigating the line between explaining extinction as an interesting “neutral”/”normal” phenomenon in the history of the biosphere, versus instances of it that are a problem that “we” caused and should so something about? (Given that both are true..).
Matthew Carter
01:02:20
Rebecca raises a great point- it seems really important for us to highlight the artificiality of taxidermy as a gateway to not only highlight the natural beauty of live animals but to open a dialogue around how the knowledge of animals we have is always dependant upon the historical context in which it was produced,
Dominic O'Key
01:04:59
Great point Matthew. I think it was Donna Haraway who, in her book Primate Visions, said that taxidermy obscures the vast network of production that created it. Perhaps it’s up to museums to be transparent about that production, to tell that story, to take responsibility?
Persephone Pearl
01:05:53
That sounds like a great development with Alfred, Isla
Anna Svensson
01:06:17
I was struck by the point that was made several times about the challenge of the nature-culture disconnect, and wonder about the potential or difficulties of juxtaposing natural history specimens with ethnographical and ethnobotanical objects in order to talk about extinction? The Horniman Gardens are interesting here as a space seems to be experimenting with reconnecting the natural history and cultural collections in the garden which remain distinct in the museum exhibitions (e.g. a bee garden addressing insect extinction and the 'fossil' garden, and the useful plants garden includes pictures of objects from the collections on the labels.)
Matthew Carter
01:10:48
As Hannah-Lee Chalk says: there is this sense of lingering ‘ghosts’ wh
Matthew Carter
01:12:16
*when we are confronted with the remains of extinct creatures when we encounter them in museums. I wonder to what extent the idea of biotic or ecological ‘ghosts’ could be engaged with the promote conservation ideas?
Dave Pritchard
01:13:42
Can we do more to explore the anthropocentric cultural & societal value-judgements involved here? We want to conserve biodiversity, but apparently not smallpox and COVID19 (ie we actively want those to be extinct).
Abigail Allan
01:20:10
Edith Hall has also relatively recently written an article about the UK’s working class’ study of Classics and visiting Classical connections, which is quite a nice counterpoint
Abigail Allan
01:20:20
*collections
Ruth Garde
01:21:57
It’s surely possible to programme things that are awesome and entertaining that also can prompt reflection about the climate crisis?
Dominic O'Key
01:22:00
A big question: How do our UK contributors feel about the recent pushback from the government regarding contested heritage? (This is culture sec, Oliver Dowden, who warned museums to remain apolitical for fear of stripping their funding.)
Rosie Cooper
01:22:32
I witness a very similar thing at our institution@Hannah-Lee - would completely agree that it starts with a connection/inspiration/curiosity with nature. Thanks for the insight and framing it in this way. This has encouraged me.
Dominic O'Key
01:29:59
There is a productive tension here: on the one side, museums being everything for everyone; on the other, embracing politics which necessarily involves alienating some visitors. What would this mean for representing/ communicating mass extinction?
Siobhan Starrs
01:33:46
Apologies I have unstable connection warnings
Dave Pritchard
01:34:51
@Dominic - what about a sort of "investigative journalism" stance, which "embraces" politics but is also "for everyone" and not alienating?
Ruth Garde
01:35:28
That’s a brilliant point Isla - there are several networks on social media (on Twitter)that are black led-nature/environment lovers, who give the lie to that notion of who is or is not passionate about nature.
Persephone Pearl
01:39:31
Would be fab to have some museums on board for Lost Species Day this year. I know some of you have run events on site and on line in the past. https://www.lostspeciesday.org/?page_id=14
Dominic O'Key
01:46:46
Agree Hannah. There’s an ethical obligation at stake.
Miranda Cichy
01:49:29
I found what Siobhan was saying very interesting as it reminds me of the latest David Attenborough documentary - Extinction: The Facts - which used a strong framing of Covid and also hope, ending with a personal encounter / hope story of D.A. and mountain gorillas. Again this all links to what Hannah-Lee was saying about connection/love - "we will not save what we do not love" to quote Robert Macfarlane (who was quoting somebody else).
Clare Curtis
01:57:30
If there are particular social scientists Siobhan could name I'd be very interested in this, or links to work around this
Miranda Cichy
01:58:24
Thinking of emotions - Ursula Heise makes the case in Imagining Extinction for using humour in extinction narratives. Wonder if/how this would work in a museum context.
Persephone Pearl
02:00:46
So does Nicole Seymour, @Miranda
Miranda Cichy
02:01:24
Thanks @Persephone - I wasn't aware of this so will follow up!
stefan skrimshire
02:01:24
See also Maria Lux’s ‘Famous Monsters’ graphic novel, @Miranda
Miranda Cichy
02:01:59
Thanks @Stefan - I do love that novel, good point - not just Heise then
Hannah-Lee Chalk
02:03:31
Absolutely agree Dolly - Covid has opened up so many more conversations with so many people and this has been a fantastic example of the type of discussion that would not otherwise have happened
Rebecca Machin
02:03:40
A pleasure!
Clare Curtis
02:03:40
Was great!
Mariana Reyes
02:03:43
Thank you! Amazing panel
Julia Gibson (she/they)
02:03:46
Thank you all!
Miranda Cichy
02:03:50
Thanks so much, this was awesome
H. Rabe
02:03:52
thank you everyone!
Matthew Carter
02:03:55
Thanks everyone- it was a wonderful discussion!
Michelle Nijhuis
02:04:09
Thanks very much to all!
Persephone Pearl
02:04:11
Many thanks that was super interesting
Anna Svensson
02:04:11
Thanks for a great discussion! Lots of food for thought.
Siobhan Starrs
02:04:17
Thanks to everyone. Really inspiring and useful conversation today. #grateful
Laurence Payot
02:04:22
Thank you!