Rachel Roy

Research Key Words:

Critical Museum Anthropology; Museum Ethnography, Urban/Human Geography; Urban Anthropology/Sociology; Continental Philosophy; Transnational Anthropology


“An Ethnography of the Museum of Vancouver: A Critical Analysis of Institutional Change”

My research follows the disciplinary stream of critical museum anthropology that examines the ‘behind the scenes’ of how western museum institutions function and the economic, political, historical, and sociocultural forces that influence institutional (re)directions, larger shifts and transformations and/or static states of existence. Within this academic space, I focus on the particular relationships between urban groups/ populations and public cultural institutions such as museums. My research emphasizes local urban sociocultural as well as larger transnational contexts in which museums are situated.

My research project aims to critically examine Museum of Vancouver’s (MOV) recent and extensive institutional shifts to analyze its complex relationships with Vancouver’s inhabitants, and how this contributes to a new paradigm for urban museums.  I use a variety of field work methodologies including participant observation, archival research, and interviews.  Further to this, I trace a contemporary project that MOV is undergoing to consider how MOV may be moving in  new and diverging directions and/or larger transformations.  My research contributes to a better understanding of the benefits, challenges and related areas of concern for museums going through similar institutional transitions.  As MOV moves forward with future engagements with local and urban populations, my dissertation provides an original and critical record for MOV and related participants on lessons learned form working within collaborative and recent participatory frameworks of engagement.

B.A. First Class Honours, Anthropology & Sociology, Mount Allison University, 2002

M.A., Museum Studies, University of Toronto, 2005

PhD Supervisor: Dr. Anthony Shelton

Conference Presentations:

“Reflecting on a Collaborative Curatorial Process: The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) Student Exhibition ‘Don’t Give it UP!’  The Lives and Stories of the Mabel Stanley Collection.”  ICME (ICOM) Conference in Zagreb, Croatia.  October 2014.

“Exploring City Museum Intersections with Vancouver’s Urban Community Networks.”  CAMOC (ICOM) Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.  May 2014.

“Shifting Exhibition Boundaries: Critical Curatorial Practices at the Museum of Anthropology and the Satellite Gallery.”  AAA Conference ‘Border Crossings.’  November 2012.

“Movements Between Art and Anthropology.”  CASCA Conference ‘The Unexpected’ at the Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta.  May 2012.

Council for Museum Anthropology Conference Paper Travel Award , 2012
Museum Studies Department Fellowship, Museum Studies Department, University of Toronto , 2003
Departmental Award for Anthropology/Sociology, Mount Allison University , 2002