Being at Beloit is not the same as belonging at Beloit. Moving into a new community means finding your place among the unfamiliar. A new exhibit opening in the Logan Museum of Anthropology later this week, examines the everyday struggle to preserve individual identity while fitting into a new social and cultural context. Objects in this exhibit come from a 500-year old mummy bundle from the Central Coast of Peru at the time of Inca imperialism. This person’s grave goods tell the story of how they maintained ethnic identity while incorporating themselves (assimilating) into a new society.
While there are more than 350,000 objects in the museum, they often seem unrelated to our everyday lives, but they are actually relevant to experiences today. The temporary exhibit Belonging in a Multicultural Society: From the Ancient Andes to Beloit was curated by students in Prof. Kylie Quave’s fall 2016 course “Anthropological Research in Museums,” based on interdisciplinary research by Kylie, Alicia Hoffman’15, and Reed Peck-Kriss’15.
The students transformed research on the mummy bundle into an exhibit for a broader audience as part of their semester-long endeavor to make museum research meaningful.
This Inca mummy bundle is an example of the lifelong and ongoing process of belonging, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
In the exhibit, visitors are asked to consider how their experiences mirror or differ from that of an Inca bureaucrat living on the periphery of the empire. The conclusion of the exhibit includes an interview with members of Students for an Inclusive Campus and visitors are asked to share their experiences with others.
These three ceramic objects from a mummy bundle exhibit the range of ethnic identities of the Inca bureaucrat presented in the exhibit (from local, non-Inca to Inca).