Bruchac, Margaret

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Arts and Humanities
Social and Behavioral Sciences
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Associate Professor, Coordinator of Native American & Indigenous Studies
Museum Anthropology: curation and representation, cultural property and provenance, living history interpretation, repatriation. Native American Studies: Indigenous epistemologies, colonial encounters, ethnohistory, transculturalism, sovereignty. Cultural Expression: performance, cultural recovery, language revitalization, indigenous modern art, oral traditions, ritual, ethnomusicology, visual anthropology. Indigenous Archaeologies: historical memory, material analysis, decolonizing theory, cultural resource management. Research Fellowships and Awards: American Philosophical Society, Five College Minority Fellowship, Ford Foundation, School for Advanced Research, University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation Faculty Fellowship, etc.
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 54
  • Publication
    Visualizing Native People in Philadelphia's Museums: Public Views and Student Reviews
    (2018-01-17) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
    Material representations of Indigenous history in public museums do more than merely present the past. Exhibitions are always incomplete and idiosyncratic, revealing only a small window into the social worlds of diverse human communities. Museums create, in essence, staged assemblages: compositions of objects, documents, portraits, and other material things that have been filtered through an array of influences. These influences—museological missions, collection processses, curatorial choices, loan possibilities, design concepts, research specialties, funding options, consultant opinions, space limitations, time limits, logistical challenges, etc.—will be unique for each museum and each collection. Taken together, they will inevitably determine which objects are selected for display, what events will take precedence, how cultural interactions will be re-conceptualized, and whose stories will be told.
  • Publication
    In Search of the Indian Doctress
    (1999) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
  • Publication
    Iñupiaq Smoking and Siberian Reindeer
    (2015-01-01) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
    This semester, my students in Museum Anthropology conducted close examinations of objects from Arctic locales in the collections of the Penn Museum. During our object analysis of this walrus tusk ivory Iñupiaq pipe (item# 39-10-1) in the Collections Study Room, I was intrigued by the idea that it was used for smoking opium, given the absurdly small hole in the bowl. After further research, a very different story emerged. The pipe’s shape was, indeed, inspired by Chinese opium pipes, but a survey of Arctic scholarship revealed cultural exchanges from Siberia. Iñupiaq pipes like this—with a curved tusk shape, wide bowl, and very narrow bore—closely resemble the chukch pipe used by the Indigenous Sami of northern Asia.
  • Publication
    Levi Levering's Headdress: Blurring Borders and Bridging Cultures
    (2017-12-11) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
    The feather headdress labeled 38-2-1 in the Penn Museum Collection is richly colored and composed of many types of materials. It consists of a felt cap with a leather forehead band covered with a panel of vivid loomed beadwork (in orange, blue, yellow, and white tipi shapes) and two beaded rosettes (blue, yellow, white, and red) on either end of the band. Hanging from each side are ear pendants made of buckskin with metal beads attached, and dyed downy feathers and long ribbons trail from the headdress. Extending from the top of the band are felt cylinders (faded perhaps due to light exposure?), red and yellow down feathers, and long turkey feathers topped off with more green and pink down feathers.
  • Publication
    Object Matters: Considering Materiality, Meaning, and Memory
    (2017-12-04) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
    How do indigenous objects in museum collections "speak" to those who create, collect, curate, display, and observe them? The material traces in these objects obviously evoke connections to particular aesthetic values, beliefs, and practices, but do they also retain memories of the artisans who created them? Can these objects communicate across cultural and temporal boundaries? Do they have agency, outside of the people who handle them? How might the Native American objects in the Penn Museum, in particular, represent a "bundle of relations" that entangle collectors, collections, and communities?1 Students in my Fall 2017 "Anthropology of Museums" course at the University of Pennsylvania have been considering these questions while examining a selection of evocative Native American objects in the American Section of the Penn Museum.
  • Publication
    Constructing Indigenous Associations for NAGPRA Compliance
    (2010-03-01) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
    Imagine a world where one’s right to property (including possession of one’s own body parts) is predicated upon having politically powerful relatives. Those who lack such kin are routinely disinterred and scientifically dismembered after death. When their relatives seek to recover their bodies, they encounter bureaucratic reconstructions of their identities. Who would tolerate such injustices? Now, imagine this scenario within the context of the NAGPRA legislation. NAGPRA procedures were intended to remove Indigenous ancestral remains from museum control and facilitate their repatriation. Yet, thousands of deceased individuals remain separated from their relatives, held captive, in part, by modern notions of association.
  • Publication
    Ephemeral Encounters and Material Evidence
    (2016-11-01) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
  • Publication
    The Mineral Springs of Saratoga
    (2007-01-01) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
  • Publication
    New Native American Studies Initiative at Penn
    (2013-12-01) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
  • Publication
    Mackosi’kwe’s Baskets: Marking Relationships
    (2015-01-01) Bruchac, Margaret; Bruchac, Margaret
    On August 1, 1938, before leaving the Maniwaki reserve in Quebec, Canada, anthropologist Frank G. Speck paid a visit to his old friends, Michel Buckshot and his wife Angelique, better known as Mackosi’kwe (also spelled Meshkosikwe, meaning “Beaver Meadow Woman”). Mackosi’kwe was skilled in pyroscapulimancy, a technique for divining future prospects in hunting and travel by scorching the shoulder blades of Indigenous deer, caribou, beaver, and other animals in a fire, and then reading the cracks and marks. In Speck’s case, she started with a deer scapula, followed by that of a hare, to predict an unexpected break in the return trip, but an otherwise safe journey home.