02 Apr 2007

Oxford’s Shrunken Head Collection in Danger From the Left

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Maria Grasso, a right-thinking Oxonian, sounds the tocsin over wooley-headed leftist threats to the Pitt Rivers Museum’s most popular exhibit.

Recent reports suggest that some of the staff at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England, are feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the museum’s famous ‘shrunken heads’ exhibit. They’re planning a review of the exhibit with an eye for making it more ‘respectful’, and there are even rumours of the heads being repatriated to South America. …

Dr Laura Peers, a curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum and a member of the UK government committee that published a report for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the handling of human remains, recently called into question the ‘ethics’ of the exhibit. She told the Oxford Times that she felt ‘uncomfortable’ with aspects of the shrunken heads display, and that she ‘personally would like to know more what the communities in Ecuador and Peru feel about it’. ‘This is an awkward area where personal views and professional training become mixed’, said Dr Peers (2).

In a recent statement to the press, Michael O’Hanlon, director of the Museum, said: ‘The Pitt Rivers Museum tries to tread a careful line between acknowledging the very considerable public interest in these historical displays on the one hand and the shifting ethical sensitivities on the other…

Read the whole thing.

Now, if only we could hire the temporary services of an old-fashioned Amazonian shaman, and augment that collection with some richly deserving potential specimens, already well-shrunken in understanding.

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