Monday Evening (online) Lecture by Henrietta Lidchi

Zemguani, 2015, by Kiowa jeweller Keri Ataumbi (b.1971).  Sterling silver, 18ct gold, brilliant cut and pure white diamonds, buffalo horn, elk antler, yellow lip mussel shell, and black-lipped mother of pearl. National Museums Scotland © V.2016.137, photograph Keri Ataumbi  

Jewellery: a Cultural History of Palpable Things Looking particularly at the history of jewellery made, used and sold by indigenous makers in the Southwest of the United States, this lecture will address questions of materials, technique and creation to argue that is it important to understand jewellery beyond art historical considerations. This is a personal reflection on materiality and meaning in the context of collecting, namely how, as a curator, I have selected from a field of making which has often, in the European context, not been seen as fine arts, but as craft, decorative arts, or ethnography. As the craft theorist Glenn Adamson has pointed out, this means that such work has sometimes been  “burdened” with ideas of supplementary or secondary value, arising from ideas of communal production, tradition and skill, rather than explored through ideas of personal expression, individual skill, conscious communication or historical change.  

Henrietta Lidchi is the Chief Curator of the National Museum of World Cultures. She earned her degree at Durham University and her PhD at the Open University, in anthropology, development and cultural studies. Her postgraduate research considered the types of visual images produced by British based international NGOs in the context of debates regarding the ethics and politics of representation. Prior to working in Leiden, Lidchi worked in National Museums Scotland as Keeper of World Cultures (2005-2017), and prior to that at both the Museum of Mankind (1994-2000) and the British Museum lastly as Deputy Keeper (2000-2002). In these roles she worked on temporary exhibitions and permanent galleries. Her main research interests currently are Native American art and material culture; dealing and trading in the American Southwest from the 1950s-1980s and museum histories of collecting and display, as well as contemporary artistic practices. Between 2019-2020 she was member of the Adviescommissie Nationaal Beleidskader Koloniale Collecties. She is currently on the Steering Group of Pilot Project: Provenance Research on Objects of the Colonial Era (with NIOD and Rijksmuseum) and the Benin Dialogue Group. She is Honorary Professor in the School of Political and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh as well as Visiting Scholar at CARMaH at Humboldt University Berlin.

If you are interested in joining via Zoom please contact us for more information.