Emily Jean Leischner

Research Key Words:

Critical museum anthropology, collaborative and community-based research, settler colonialism, the history of museums, digital technologies, the history of collecting, databases and archives, Northwest Coast cultural heritage.

PhD Research:

As an anthropologist and museum scholar, I research how museums have in the past and continue today to produce knowledge with and about First Nations and Native American peoples. I am interested in work which supports community-based, cultural heritage initiatives lead by Indigenous peoples, and which critically examines past and present museum practice to create more ethical, political and locally-invested institutions.

For my MA thesis, I worked on a digital database of cultural heritage in collaboration with the Nuxalk First Nation in Bella Coola, British Columbia. I wrote about how this Indigenous-led project, made for and by Nuxalk people, 1) highlights the interconnectedness of cultural heritage to land, sovereignty, and well-being and 2) makes obvious the biases and non-Indigenous values present in museum collections catalogues.

PhD. Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Kramer

M.A., Anthropology, University of British Columbia, 2018
Thesis: Kulhulmcilh and iixsalh, our land and medicine: creating a Nuxalk database of museum collections

Graduate Certificate, Museum Collections Management and Care, George Washington University, Washington D.C., 2015

B.A., History and English, Minor in International Studies, Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana, summa cum laude, 2010 Senior Thesis: Defining and Defying the Women’s Movement: A Case Study of the Home Economics Program at Goshen College, 1916-1987


(forthcoming). “Made Invisible: Examining the Collecting and Documentation Practices of Northwest Coast Tumplines” in J. Bell, J. Shannon (eds.) Putting Theory and Things Together: Research with Museum Collections, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

2018. “Review of The Language of Family: Stories of Bonds and Belonging by Michelle van der Merwe,” ed. BC Studies no. 198 Summer 2018. http://www.bcstudies.com/?q=book-reviews/language-family-stories-bonds-and-belonging

Selected Presentations

(forthcoming). Approaches to Expanding the Use of Anthropological Archives. Panel at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA, November 14-18, 2018.

Interrogating Invisibility: Insights from Creating a Nuxalk Digital Archive of Museum Belongings. Paper presented as part of the panel “Seeing Past the Settler Gaze: Objects and Objectivity in the Post-Colonial Archive” at the Royal Anthropological Institute Conference: Art, Materiality and Representation, British Museum, UK, June 1-3, 2018.

How is Digitization Changing Community Engagement? Interview with the Grunt Gallery. Video created as part of the video screening exhibition “Memory Institutions in a Digital Age: Provocations for the Future” at the Museums on the Web / MWX2018 Vancouver, British Columbia, April 18-21, 2018.

Process and Possibilities in Creating a Digital Nuxalk Cultural Heritage Database. Paper presented as part of the panel “Sustainable Museology” at the Society for Applied Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA, April 3-7, 2018.

Northwest Coast Tumplines at the Smithsonian. Guest Lecturer: Musqueam 101, Musqueam First Nation, February 7, 2018.

Between the Warp: A Close-Looking Study of Tumplines on the Northwest Coast. Guest Lecturer: ANTH 518 Museum Methods, University of British Columbia, February 9, 2018.

Student Perspectives on Museum Anthropology Futures. Panel at the Council for Museum Anthropology Conference, Montreal, May 25-27, 2017.


Outstanding Graduate Student Award , 2018
Center for American Art Professional Development Scholarship , 2014
Graduate Fellowship, George Washington University , 2014