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What can a biocultural approach to ethnographic collections reveal about people, biota and environments? Based on research around South American featherwork collections made by Indigenous peoples at the Pitt Rivers Museum, this paper considers how we can attend to museum objects as archives of both environmental and cultural knowledge. Drawing on approaches developed by South American and Indigenous scholars, we will explore how museums can be spaces for engaging in “inter-science” dialogues around collections, by placing Indigenous and Euro-centric approaches to birds directly in conversation. Using case studies from Ecuador, Paraguay and Brazil, we will think about how featherwork collections have historically shaped European imaginations of South American peoples and landscapes. The paper will also demonstrate how collaboration with Indigenous community members can open up opportunities for museums to engage in issues of climate change, biocultural diversity loss and the support of Indigenous land rights today. 

Rosa Dyer is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Project student at Birkbeck, University of London, and the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. Her research is based in the field of ethnobiology, and she works collaboratively with Indigenous ecologists, activists and artists to explore the South American featherwork collections held at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Please note that registration for this seminar will close 24 hours in advance so that the meeting link can be distributed to registered attendees.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but booking is required.