Date Thesis Awarded

4-2019

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Art and Art History

Advisor

Susan Webster

Committee Members

Mark McLaughlin

Alan Braddock

Patton Burchett

Abstract

In this thesis, the Hindu devotional object will be tracked through many contexts and its role will change based on its geographic and cultural location. First, the original ritual context will be established, paying specific attention to ceremonial processes and actions that activate the objects. Next, I will sketch the approaches to interpretation used in the two museum spaces. In this movement between spaces, the Hindu object is de- and then re-contextualized. Museums can discover from this narrative the many ways that meaning is constructed, within and outside of a Western framework. It is this pivotal period of re-contextualization that forms the basis of my inquiry and my argument. My recommendations for gallery design and interpretation will focus on moments of translation of Hindu objects as they move between contexts and on ways to increase transparency surrounding the translation processes at work in permanent galleries. Only through a decolonization not just of the museum but of the museum experience itself can Hindu objects be re-contextualized in a manner that regains their vitality and captivation.

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