More Than Enough: Reflections on Hardship in The Barren Grounds

For most readers David Robertson’s The Barren Grounds will be in many ways a familiar stroll through something similar to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. But despite all the ways in which this new Candian book for young readers parallels the classic story, The Barren Grounds is a powerful challenge to European ways of knowing that challenges readers of all ages to think about their own role in colonialism and through, on the land. These are themes that the target age demographic of the book might not be able to articulate, and I don’t want to make the entire argument for what young readers may or may not get from the book here, but as older readers of a story meant for children there are surprising layers which challenge set perspectives of the world. In particular I was continuously struck by the ways in which notions of ‘plenty’ and ‘enough’ were recontextualized in unfamiliar ways.

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Why Do You Care? – Considerations in the Rathkeale Rovers Museum Thefts

Philosophers, historians and museum professionals more generally have spent a good deal of time and energy debating the utility and purposes of art and artifacts; especially as they are contextualized by display in institutions. However, these discussions are often inaccessible and largely irrelevant to the ways that most people perceive and consume these objects. I read an exceedingly long narrative article by Charles Homans called “The Dead Zoo Gang” this week and found it an interesting exercise in considering the way historical objects are valued and utilized by different groups. “The Dead Zoo Gang” is an article about the theft of rhino horns by a network of Irish criminals, and ties into the tension between utility and philosophical value of historical objects. As museums think about how to make their practices less colonial and paternalistic I think this article and the case it describes offer different perspectives on the ways in which people outside of the academy interact with the objects of display.Read More »