19 Sep 2020

Then, They Came for the Shrunken Heads

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The Pitt Rivers Museum is removing a popular exhibit precisely because it tells the truth about primitive people. Yahoo:

The University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum has removed a collection of shrunken heads on display over concerns that they “reinforced racist and stereotypical thinking.”

On Monday, the acclaimed museum shared in a statement that visitors will see a number of “contentious displays” removed from its exhibits when its doors reopen to the public on Sept. 22.

The museum — which is one of the leading museums of anthropology, ethnography, and archaeology in the world — has removed 1230 human remains from its display as part of a museum-wide effort to “decolonize” the institution.

According to The Washington Post, decolonizing is described as “a process that institutions undergo to expand the perspectives they portray beyond those of the dominant cultural group, particularly white colonizers.”

Among the remains removed are the South American tsantas, also known as the “shrunken heads,” which were acquired by the museum between 1884 and 1936.

While the heads have been one of the museum’s most popular attractions since the 1940s, museum director Laura Van Broekhoven said that many visitors found the remains as “a testament to other cultures being ‘savage’, ‘primitive’ or ‘gruesome’.”

According to the museum, during the 19th and 20th centuries, the shrunken heads were collector’s items and were often traded by colonialists. These exchanges led “to a steep increase in violent warfare” at the time.

“Rather than enabling our visitors to reach a deeper understanding of each other’s ways of being, the displays reinforced racist and stereotypical thinking that goes against the Museum’s values today,” she continued. “The removal of the human remains also brings us in line with sector guidelines and code of ethics.”


You have to admire the weaseley attribution of the responsibility for head hunting to capitalist colonialist collectors.

6 Feedbacks on "Then, They Came for the Shrunken Heads"


“…..and finally, when they came for the shrunken heads, I said nothing. Of course, that was because my lips were sewn together…..”


Wow. Reminds me of a line from a song- ” Most of all, you have to hide it from the kids”.

Hairless Joe

Wait until the get around to reading Evelyn Waugh.

Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove

[…] Never Yet Melted covers Cancel Culture coming for shrunken heads […]


I always wondered why there were no scalps on display at the Indian Museum in DC.

Schill McGuffin

This sort of thing has been underway for years. I remember visiting the Mexican pavilion at Epcot back in 1991, which was filled with exhibits on Aztec culture but somehow managed to omit any reference to racks of human skulls in the marketplaces, or hearts being ripped out.


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