Amazonian Indigenous Cultures in Art and Anthropological Exhibitions

Amazonian Indigenous Cultures in Art and Anthropological Exhibitions

By Cinthya Lana

Anthem Brazilian Studies

The book discusses the representation of Amazonian indigenous cultures in exhibitions from a postcolonial perspective through the analysis of several temporary exhibitions taking place in both art and anthropological institutions from the 1980s onwards.

Hardback, 250 Pages


July 2022

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

The book discusses the representation of Amazonian indigenous cultures in temporary exhibitions taking place between the 1980s and 2010 through the analysis of selected case studies of these exhibitions held in major institutions in Europe, South America and the United States, including the British Museum, Musée du Quai Branly, Centre George Pompidou, Museum of Modern Art of New York, São Paulo Biennial and São Paulo Art Museum. Drawing on extensive archival research, the book is richly illustrated and presents a range of exhibition documentation never published before. 

The book takes as a starting point the theoretical discussions that emerged in the 1980s stimulating the development of notions of ‘decolonising’ or ‘indigenising’ the museum as well as of practices of collaboration between museums and indigenous communities. Forty years on from the outset of these debates, the book proposes a critical inquiry on how these discussions inflected on exhibition practices in the following decades, focusing in particular on how ‘major’ institutions (ethnographic museums, art museums and art biennials) have responded to these debates. 

The results of the research suggest that practice has fallen behind theory and that most ‘major’ institutions or museums within Europe and the United States are still only marginally engaging with Amazonian indigenous peoples in the organisation of exhibitions. The book advances the concept of ‘minor curating’ as a strategy to potentiate access of indigenous peoples to historical collections held by major institutions and to facilitate the development of cultural projects with these collections and in ways that are culturally, historically and politically effective. The book has an interdisciplinary reach contributing to the fields of visual anthropology, curatorial studies, museum studies and exhibition history and covering a geographical area that has been overlooked within these fields. 


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Author Information

Cinthya is a researcher at the University of Gothenburg developing a project of digital repatriation of Brazilian collections from the Swedish Museum of World Cultures (Världskulturmuseet), as well as opening the collections for long-term research to indigenous students from the Amazonian region, including the Waiwai, Palikur, Munduruku and Tikuna.


Anthem Brazilian Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1 – Primitivism and Magicians: The Amazon in the Art World; Chapter 2 – Amazonian Art in Civilized Places: The 24th São Paulo Biennial; Chapter 3 – The Hidden and the Unknown: Amazonian Exhibitions at the British Museum; Chapter 4 – A Subdivided World: The Amazon in the Musée Du Quay Branly’s Comparative Exhibitions; Conclusion.


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