Since the 1980s, the legitimacy of collecting and showing “different humanities” has been a topic of debate in international law and in public opinion too, which is increasingly sensitive to such matters. Where and how has humanity been exhibited? In what ways have skeletons, skulls, embalmed bodies, photographs, casts, and artefacts been used to account for human diversity?
Anthropology museums have visibly started to change the way they exhibit artefacts, yet the question remains open whether it is still possible to exhibit human remains. How are we to cope with the ever greater number of requests to restitute objects. And who is to decide and settle such questions? This special issue, at the intersection between anthropology, museography, and the history of art, focuses on the exhibition of humanity in specific, situated contacts, and on the attendant racial and political issues. Without seeking to be in any way exhaustive, it explores these questions by looking at several anthropology museums in Italy, France, Japan, Mexico, and Argentina.
Special issue coordinated by Silvia Sebastiani
illustrations by Andrea Jacchia