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6-7 May, Online and hosted by The Box, Plymouth 

This year we would like to take the opportunity offered by the annual conference to create some space for conversations between practitioners, community members and researchers to reflect on and reimagine the future of our ethnographic museums, global collections and networks. This will be followed by conversations hosted by The Box, Plymouth, and the AGM. The Box is a new £46 million cultural destination which opened in 2020 despite the pandemic. The Box was launched by Plymouth City Council as a flagship project for Mayflower 400 commemorations.

The Conference will be held in two parts. The first day will be open to everyone and will feature a variety of conversations on topics that many museums are currently grappling with. The second day will be made up of the AGM (members will receive an email about this) and a special session hosted by the Box Plymouth.This second session is free to members who have been sent a discount code. The cost of attending is £40.MEG membership is £30 and you can sign up through the Membership page on this site.

MEG Conference 2021

Day 1 will be free and open to everyone but you will need to book via eventbrite


9.30 – Welcome – Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp (Chair)

9.45 – 10.45 – Conversation 1: Cultures of Care. Nuala Morse and Jennie Morgan (Stirling University).

10.45-11.00 – Snack Break

11.00 -12.00 – Conversation 2: Fear of the Past: Public perceptions of Decolonisation. Post-Colonial Heritage Research Group including Sam Aylett (Open University), Matthew Jones (University of Sussex), Adiva Lawrence (University of Hull), Laharee Mitra (Goldsmiths University of London), Michael Rayner (University of Sussex)

12.00 – 12.15 – Tea Break

12.15 – 13.15 – Conversation 3: Representing Egypt: Centring Egyptian Communities in confronting Colonial Practices and Legacies of Ancient Egyptian Museum Displays. Heba Abd el Gawad (UCL), Alice Stevenson (UCL), Mohammed Nasser (Nasser Junior, Egyptian Comic Artist), and John Maher (El3osba Egyptian Graphic Novel)

13.15 – 2.00 – Lunch Break

2.00 – 2.45 – Catching up with friends and colleagues in breakout rooms.

2.45 – 3.00 – Eye Break

3.00 – 5.30 – Screening pre-recorded conversations and open floor for discussion. Featuring:

Glen Chisholm (Community Curator, Ipswich Museums) and Melanie Hollis (Collections and Learning Curator, Ipswich Museums), Power of Stories: Connecting collections and community.

Taylor Norman (Mvoske Creek) and Jack Davy (Morley College), Legislating heritage: exploring the intersection of law and culture in Native American material history in the UK.

Laura Peers (Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford), Virtual Stores Visits - Project update.

Anita Herle (MAA, Cambridge), Activating Anthropology's Archive: Alfred Haddon's Journals from the Torres Strait and New Guinea 1888-1898 and Island Kastom – Project update.


Nicola Stylianou (University of Sussex), Making African Connections – Project update.


Day 2  

10:00am-12:00pm (BST) - MEG AGM - members should have received details and a zoom link for this. If you haven't received it please check that you have renewed your membership and then contact the committee.

2-5 pm (BST) and 9-12 am (US EST), Friday 7th May Virtual tours and transatlantic conversations from The Box, Plymouth


This second session is free to members who have been sent a discount code. Otherwise the cost of attending is £40.MEG membership is £30 and you can sign up through the Membership page on this site.


2-2.30             Welcome to The Box

Tabitha Cadbury, Curator of World Cultures and Social History, The Box

The Box, Britain’s biggest new cultural attraction, opened during the 2020 pandemic. A combined museum, art gallery, record office, photographic and film archive, The Box was planned as a flagship for Plymouth’s Mayflower 400 commemorations. This year’s virtual conference opens up new possibilities for international conversations as well as offering a glimpse of our new permanent galleries including 100 Journeys, which explores Plymouth’s role as a transatlantic and global embarkation point.


2.30-3.10       Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy - challenging and changing perceptions of the past

 Jo Loosemore, Project Curator, Dr. Kathryn Gray, University of Plymouth and Paula Peters, Wampanoag Tribal Scholar

Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy - an epic journey of survival, imagination and 400 years of America. With objects, images and ideas coming from museums, libraries and archives across the UK, US and The Netherlands, find out how The Box is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower. This presentation will reveal the partnerships changing perceptions of the ship, its passengers and an Atlantic journey made 400 years ago.

3.10-20 Break


3.20-4             Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America- a loss, a search and an exhibition

 Paula Peters, Wampanoag Tribal Scholar and Dr. Margaret Bruchac, University of Pennsylvania

In 1676, the Wampanoag leader Metacom’s wampum belt was taken by the English victors of King Philip’s War. Sources suggest it crossed the Atlantic and was lost here. The Wampanoag people have been trying to find it ever since. In 2019, a new search began in England, and a new wampum belt was created in its honour in America. This presentation will explain the cultural and diplomatic significance of wampum – past, present and future.  


4-4.50             Transatlantic partnerships and possibilities

Paula Peters, Prof. Margaret Bruchac and Dr Kenneth Cohen

The 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower has brought both sides of the Atlantic together. There have been exhibitions, projects and programmes creating opportunities to share historic and contemporary connections. The anniversary has also enabled British curators to listen to and learn from indigenous American historians. Have we come closer to addressing the impact of colonisation and its legacy?  


4.50-5             Roundup and goodbyes

5-5.30             Opportunity to stay and chat


Participant biographies

Tabitha Cadbury is Curator of World Cultures and Social History at The Box. She is a longstanding MEG member and has been involved in creating The Box’s new 100 Journeys gallery.


Jo Loosemore is a broadcaster, curator and actor. For the BBC, she has created documentaries, radio dramas and live programmes. Having created Plymouth’s oral history archive and co-curated Tales from the City (Plymouth’s largest social history exhibition), she is now the curator of the national commemorative exhibition Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy and co-curator of Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America, which is currently on national tour. She has been recently appointed Visiting Fellow at the University of Plymouth.


Dr Kathryn Gray is Associate Professor (Reader) of Early American Literature at the University of Plymouth. She has published books and articles on the literatures and cultures of colonial New England and her research supported a number of projects that respond to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage. Dr Gray is the author of John Eliot and the Praying Indians of Massachusetts Bay as well as articles including ‘Native American Voices in Colonial North America’ in the Routledge Companion to Native American Literature.


Paula Peters is a politically, socially and culturally active member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and owner of SmokeSygnals, a creative agency and also the Wampanoag Trading Post and Gallery. As an independent scholar and writer of Native American, and particularly Wampanoag history, she is the producer the traveling exhibit Our Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History. She also produced The Wampum Belt Project now exhibiting in the UK, documenting the art and tradition of wampum in the Wampanoag community while in search of the lost treasures of Metacom. Paula is the executive producer of the 2016 documentary film and author of the companion book, Mashpee Nine, a story of law enforcement, abuse of power and cultural justice in the Wampanoag community.


Dr. Margaret Bruchac  is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Bruchac has long been committed to critical studies of colonial histories, archives, and museums, while recovering Indigenous histories in ways that challenge erasures and stereotypes. Prof. Bruchac directs a restorative research project – “The Wampum Trail” – that focuses on recovering materials and historical data for wampum objects (see: She is author the award-winning Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists and, with Dr Laura Peers, of a forthcoming article for JME, ‘Recovering Wampum in English Museums: The Search for Metacom’s Belts.’


Dr Kenneth Cohen is Director of Museum Studies at the University of Delaware, and Hintz Secretarial Scholar and Curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. His work on early America has explored the intersections of race and gender through popular culture and historical memory, appearing in print, exhibition, and digital formats. An experienced practitioner of community co-creation, he is currently leading the partnership behind the forthcoming Smithsonian exhibit, Upending 1620: Where Do We Begin?


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