Synopses & Reviews
North America's museums are treasured for their collections of Aboriginal ethnographic and archaeological objects. Yet stories of how these artifacts were acquired often reveal unethical acts and troubling chains of possession, as well as unexpected instances of collaboration. For instance, archaeological excavation of Aboriginal graves was so prevalent in the late-eighteenth century that the government of Upper Canada legislated against it, although this did little to stop the practice. Many objects were collected by non-Native outsiders to preserve cultures perceived to be nearing extinction, while other objects were donated or sold by the same Native communities that later demanded their return. Some Native people collected for museums and even created their own.
"Collections and Objections transcends geographic, scholarly, and temporal borders. Not only is it a study of Ontario, but it also touches on subjects pertinent to other cases across North America. Similarly it is not just a study of material culture, but also a narrative inspired by the complementary fields of history, archaeology, anthropology, and Aboriginal studies. (...) It is sure to be a welcome addition to many researchers' bookshelves." H-Canada
"[Collections and Objections] banishes the notion that the history of archaeology is dry, dusty, and boring and has little relevance to the present. Archaeologists and Aboriginal people involved in the creation of an archaeological tradition in Ontario come to life on the pages...The book is incredibly well written and difficult to put down, a rare find in the scholarly literature about archaeology. It should be required reading for every archaeologist in Ontario and anyone interested in the historical development of the current relationship between Aboriginal peoples and archaeologists." Gary Warick, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canadian Journal of Archaeology
A nuanced study of conflicts over possession of Aboriginal artifacts.
About the Author
Michelle A. Hamilton is assistant professor and director of public history at the University of Western Ontario.