Emily Jean Leischner
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
I am a white, settler PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Anthropology. Very broadly, I study the ethics of museum practice, past and present, using collaborative and community-based methods to connect with the creative, innovative, and political ways communities are engaging with their heritage. After a decade in the museum field, I am currently working with the Nuxalk First Nation, whose territory is located in the central coast of what is also known as British Columbia, on various applied projects for my dissertation, which looks at the relationship between museums and settler colonialism.
My research is action-oriented and community focused. I care about projects that strengthen community members’ access and control over their own heritage, with a special focus on those whose heritage has been appropriated, stolen, erased, or misrepresented. Through my research, I seek to identify the ongoing legacies of harm and injustice present in heritage work. By partnering with and learning from my collaborators, I am better able to understand the limits and possibilities of museums as instruments of change.
My dissertation uses community-based research to investigate the role of settler colonialism in the capture, stewardship, and return of Indigenous voices in museums and archives. Working with members of the Nuxalk First Nation, I have observed how Nuxalk voices historically and in the present have been treated as a resource – often taken, decontextualized, and used without their permission. In creating a collaborative radio show on museum collecting, and through locating and returning copies of Nuxalk voices from museums and archives back to the Nation, my research investigates how to disrupt the logic of Indigenous-voice-as-resource. What is unique about the ways auditory knowledge is captured, held, and shared by museums and outside of museum walls? What are the barriers to returning the knowledge on these recordings back to the Nuxalk Nation? And, in my own work, how do I adopt anti-colonial listening and researching practices?
Research Key Words
Community-based research, critical museum anthropology, settler colonialism, the history of museums, digital technologies, the history of collecting, databases and archives.
My MA thesis supported the Nuxalk Ancestral Governance Office’s goals to reinvigorate the Nation’s laws and protocols by helping to develop an online database of Nuxalk heritage, still held in museums across the continent.
2022. “What Happens to Indigenous Law in the Museum?,” Museum Worlds 10(1): 31-47.
2022. Co-author with Nunanta (Iris Siwallace) and Nicole Kaeschele. “Indiginizing Academic Minds to Work with Community: A Joint Reflection on the Everyday Work of Building Good Research Relationships” in The Community-Based PhD: Complexities and Triumphs of Conducting CBPR, edited by Sonya Atalay and Alexandra McCleary. University of Arizona Press: 237-252.
Forthcoming. “Missing Objects and Absent Records: Examining Silences while Researching Northwest Coast Tumplines” in Putting Theory & Things Together: Working with Museum Collections, edited by Joshua Bell and Jennifer Shannon. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press.
2019. “Review of Incorporating Culture: How Indigenous People are Reshaping the Northwest Coast Art Industry.” Pacific Northwest Quarterly. University of Washington.
2019. “Review of Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists by Margaret M. Bruchac.” Transmotion Journal, Vol. 5 no. 1. University of Kent.
2018. “Review of the Language of Family: Stories of Bonds and Belonging by Michelle van der Merwe, ed.” BC Studies no. 198.
Council for Museum Anthropology Student Travel Award, 2022
Graduate Fellow, W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, 2021-2022
Michael Ames Scholarship in Museum Studies, 2018, 2022
Community-University Engagement Support recipient, 2020-2021: “Healing with Heritage: Nuxalk Museum and Exhibition Planning through Collaborative Engagement” with Jennifer Kramer & the Nuxalk First Nation
Frances Reif Scholarship in Northwest Coast Indigenous Art, 2020
Public Scholar, 2019
Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Canadian Anthropology Society, 2018
Arts Graduate Research Award, 2018
Center for American Art Professional Development Scholarship, 2014-2015
Graduate Fellowship, George Washington University, 2014-2015
Menno Simons Academic Merit Scholarship, Goshen College, 2006-2010
Lilly Endowment Community Scholar, Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, 2006-2010
Radio Show co-host with Nanutsaakas. “Using and Refusing Museums (Season 1: Episodes 1-8)” Nuxalk Radio 91.1 FM, Summer 2021 & 2022.
“Captured Voices Still Speak the Law: Sound Recordings of Indigenous Voices in Museums.” Organizer of the panel: “Co-Creating an Anti-Colonial Heritage Sector,” Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, November 9-13, 2022.
Guest Lecturer. “Stolen Treasures on Unceded Airwaves: Indigenous Radio and the Case for Community-Based Research with Museums” Decentering and Re-centering History: Anthropology of Museums, Trinity College, Nov 17, 2021.
“Grant Writing in Museum Ethnography.” Panel Participant, Council of Museum Anthropology, October 15, 2021.
“Place-based Approaches to Knowledge Exchange: The Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal,” Panel Presenter: “Collaboration: Digital Humanities Conference,” University of British Columbia, October 28, 2020
“Legacy Collections and Enduring Obligations: The E. Pauline Johnson Collection at the Museum of Vancouver.” Paper part of the panel: Indigenous and Local Collecting: Remembering what Museum History Forgets at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC, November 20-24, 2019.
Nuxalktimutaylayc-Transforming Museum Object Engagement into a Nuxalk Way of Being through a First Nation, Museum, University Art Nexus. Panel at the Council for Museum Anthropology Biennial Conference, Santa Fe, NM, September 19-21, 2019.
Instructor. “Workshop: Using Museum Collections” for Tides Canada – Cedar 8 Heritage Training. Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, May 2, 2019.
Approaches to Expanding the Use of Anthropological Archives. Panel at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA, November 14-18, 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.
“Student Perspectives on Museum Anthropology Futures.” Panel at the Council for Museum Anthropology Conference, Montreal, May 25-27, 2017.