In 2018, a committee of staff members at the Harry Ransom Center began the process of updating the Center’s deaccession policy and procedures: a standard document that most museums and archives have in their collection management protocols. One of the laws listed in the deaccession policy is The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), which directs federal agencies and institutions that received federal funding to deaccession Native American cultural items and return them to descendants of affiliated Indian tribes per statutes of this Federal Act. The deaccession committee’s project to review Native American collections at the Ransom Center was further inspired following the 2019 Flair Symposium Ethical Challenges in Cultural Stewardship, which included discussions about NAGPRA in some of the panel presentations. [Read more…] about The Ransom Center and NAGPRA: A team effort in research
Wonder: that is the starting point of philosophy, according to Plato. Myths capture our attention by telling wonderful stories. Philosophers, however, look for hidden wonders disguised in platitudes. Can you tell what the verb ‘to be’ really means every time we use it? Of course, there also is room for the wonderful stories in philosophy. Humans are storytellers, after all. The orphic tradition portrays the search for knowledge as a descent into the depths of the underworld. They might even have influenced Plato when he writes that doing philosophy is learning how to die. Whether we are attracted by the wonderful or the disguised wonders, for Aristotle all intellectual endeavors share the same origin: our natural desire for understanding. [Read more…] about Wonder, depth, understanding: Scholarship in process
This essay is part of a slow research series, What is Research?
The students stand, pencil and paper in hand, before the display window in the Harry Ransom Center’s seminar room. Behind the glass are an array of objects from the Center’s archives: Arthur Miller’s handwritten notes on a draft of Death of a Salesman; a journalist’s photograph of Mexican Bracero workers bent over in the fields; a massive book for young homemakers published by Better Homes and Gardens; a condescending letter from Norman Mailer to the Black playwright Lorraine Hansberry; a photograph of a white, middle-class mother braiding her tomboy daughter’s hair in their postward, suburban back yard. The students are often so engrossed in observing these objects that I have to remind them not to lean on the glass. [Read more…] about Taking time to teach hidden histories in the archives