Material Culture Lecture Keynote - Professor Ivan Gaskell

Material Culture Lecture Keynote - Professor Ivan Gaskell

Issued: Tue, 02 May 2017 09:55:00 BST

The Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities is delighted to invite you to keynote lecture delivered by Professor Ivan Gaskell to be held at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow on Monday 12 June 2017.  

Professor Ivan Gaskell, Curator and Head of the Focus Gallery Project at the Bard Graduate Center, New York, is Professor of Cultural History and Museum Studies at Bard Graduate Center, New York City. Using non-written traces of the past, he addresses intersections among history, art history, anthropology, and philosophy. As well as writing case studies ranging from seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings, Native American baskets, and Congo textiles, he works on underlying philosophical questions. He is the author or editor of twelve books, most recently Tangible Things: Making History through Objects (2015). He organized numerous exhibitions at Harvard University, where he taught and curated between 1991 and 2011. At Bard Graduate Center, as well as teaching in the Masters and PhD programs, Gaskell heads the Focus Project, an ongoing series of experimental exhibitions and publications. He is Research Associate in Anthropology of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, and of the American Museum of Natural History, New York. He is a Permanent Senior Fellow of the Advanced Study Institute of the Georg-August University, Göttingen.

The keynote is titled "A firm hand on the Lobster. Other People's Things and How to Get Hold of Them." One of the core responsibilities of any museum curator is to develop the collection for which she is responsible, often by persuading private collectors to donate items to her museum. In the process, things change hands—perhaps for the last time in the foreseeable future in a succession of such transactions. What is going on when things change hands? Cultural historian Ivan Gaskell tries to answer this question by addressing instances of things changing hands between peoples from different societies. His primary example is consensual exchanges between members of James Cook’s expeditions to the Pacific and the peoples they met, whether on the northwest coast of North America, Tahiti, or Aotearoa New Zealand, between 1769 and 1778. He has chosen this period and place in the belief that no curator can afford to ignore things made by humans at any time and in any location in the world—and there are some good stories. From his chosen examples, Gaskell develops a theory of the cognitive processes that accompany acquisition, proposing that no curator can afford to avoid thinking theoretically as well as empirically.

The lecture will run from 1630-1730 (approx.) on Monday June 12 at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow

There are limited spaces available for the keynote lecture by Prof Ivan Gaskell, register here.


This is an Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities event, funded and organised by the SGSAH.

This lecture is part of a larger event on Material Culture. Please note that registration allows you to attend this lecture only.