Jennifer Kramer

I hold a joint position as cultural anthropologist in the department of anthropology and museum curator at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. I strive to be both a collaborative museologist and a critical museologist. In this way, I merge practitioner/curator and theoretician/critic as I partner with Indigenous communities to create ethnographic writing, exhibitionary displays, and digital resources that try to feel as true as self-representation, but at the same time be aware and reflexive of the histories, structural inequalities, and contemporary politics in which we are all embroiled.

I research how and why representation is meaningful and often politically charged by studying the ways that visual culture gets variously defined within art galleries and museums, art market economies, world expos and Olympic Games, national and international legal systems, Indigenous cultural centres, schools and tourism sites. In this way, material culture can be mobilized to support or refute claims to identity, status, land, or resource extraction in powerful and evocative manners, which highlight complex social relations between individuals and between cultural communities.

Visual culture and ‘art’ of the First Nations of the Northwest Coast, specifically the Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Wuikinuxv, and Kwakwaka’wakw,

Art Market Economies, Identity Production, Representation, Repatriation, Cultural Property, Aboriginal Cultural Tourism, Indigenous Modernity, and Collaborative and Critical Museology.

Research Projects

My ongoing research projects begin in museum collections but actually are about contemporary Indigenous relationships to historic material culture and to cross-cultural Canadian and US society. I am a co-applicant and partner in a $1 million SSHRC CURA grant (2011-2016) to explore new alternatives for the recovery of Indigenous heritage of two Quebecois First Nations: The Ilnu of Mashteuiatsh and the Anishnabeg of Kitigan Zibi. Bringing together university, museum, and First Nations partners from the University of Montreal, UBC MOA, the Chicago Field Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the American Indian Museum of Mashteuiatsh, and the Kitigan Zibi Cultural and Education Centre, this project is a think tank combining ritual knowledge holders with repatriation specialists, Indigenous language speakers with digital heritage archivists, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous museum professionals.

My second project is only nascent. I am embarking on a multi-year, collaborative study of historic and contemporary interactions of the peoples of the central Northwest Coast of BC – Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Wuikinuxv, and Kwakwaka’wakw. I recently received a Smithsonian Recovering Voices grant to bring Indigenous language speakers, cultural teachers, and artists into dialogue with historic material culture in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian. I am interested in the ways that traditional art historic stylistic analysis (ie, formalism, identification of national art styles and individual artists) and anthropological and museological categories and classification systems are employed or refuted by young cultural leaders on the central Northwest Coast.

Publications:

  • 2012 Kesu’: The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer. Douglas & McIntyre Press: Vancouver and University of Washington Press: Seattle. (2011 Alcuin Society Canadian Book design “pictorial” First Place)
  • 2006 Switchbacks: Art, Ownership, and Nuxalk National Identity. UBC Press: Vancouver
  • 2004 “Figurative Repatriation: First Nations ‘Artist-Warriors’ Recover, Reclaim, and Return Cultural Property through Self-Definition” Journal of Material Culture 9(2):161-182. PDF

Forthcoming:

  • (In press) Kramer, Jennifer “Fighting with Property: The Double-edged Rhetoric of
  • Ownership” in Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas. (Townsend-Gault, Charlotte, Kramer, Jennifer and Ki-ke-in, eds.) UBC Press: Vancouver.
  • (In press) Kramer, Jennifer “Möbius Museology: Curating and Critiquing the Multiversity Galleries at the UBC Museum of Anthropology” in Museum Transformations: Art, Culture, History (Annie E. Coombes and Ruth B. Phillips, eds.) Wiley-Blackwell Press.
  • (In Press) Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Jennifer Kramer and Ki-ki-en (eds.) Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas. UBC Press: Vancouver.

Exhibitions:

2012 – 2013
Kramer, Jennifer with ANTH 431/518 students
Together Again: Nuxalk Faces of the Sky April 5-September 30, 2012, MOA;
December 15, 2012 – July 14, 2013,
Seattle Art Museum

2012 – 2013
Kramer,Jennifer
Kesu’: The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer
March 17-September 3, 2012, MOA; October 19, 2012-February 17, 2013, Museum at Campbell River;
May 11, 2013 – ongoing, U’mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay, BC
- Recipient of “Museums in Motion 2012 Award of Merit” British Columbia Museums Association

2010
Kramer, Jennifer The Story of Nulis – a Kwakwaka’wakw Imas Mask
January 22, 2010 – December 15, 2012

Winter 2014

ANTH431C Museum Practice and Curatorship - MUS PRC&CURATRSH Sections

Management of museum collections and their public presentation, addressing questions of access, collaboration, and cultural property. The public interpretation of anthropological concepts and materials utilizing the programs and facilities of the Museum of Anthropology.

Winter 2014

ANTH518C Museum Methods - MUSEUM METHODS Sections

Analytical approaches to the study of museums and collections. Methods of field collecting, collections research, laboratory procedures, visitor studies, social organization of museum and related cultural industries, exhibit and program evaluation techniques and the ethics of museum research and practice.