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On Transforming Museums of the Indigenous People into That of Human Rights
〜In Case of Museums on/by Ainu at Chew-pet, Ainu Mosir (Asahikawa, Hokkaido)〜

March 20th(Fri), 2009
Granship (Shizuoka Arts Convention Center) at (
Audio-visual Hall(2F)
(Three minutes from JR Higashi-Shizuoka station)
1:15-2:45pm Talks
3:00-4:30pm Discussion

Guest Speakers:
Ken-ichi Kawamura (Director of Kawamura Ainu Memorial Museum),
Kawami Shikata (Curator, City Museum of Asahikawa)
Takaya Tsukada (Chair for Ainu Traditional House Restoration Project)
Mitsuhiro Fujimaki (University of Shizuoka)
Administrative Office of this Symposium (

Modern museums have had, in a sense, a close tie with the Indigenous People. Their cultural products have been “collected” for display, and they themselves have been “displayed” as primitive and those who were doomed to be “annihilated” at museums, particularly ethnology’s museums and natural science museums. And, the arts by the Indigenous People have been “assimilated” as a part of Art History, which has been a part of Nation-state, and thus, postulated as “primitive arts.”
To that extend, within the museums’ context, the Indigenous People have been marginalized. At the same time, modern museums have had to depend on the presence of the Indigenous People so that the museums could function as normative institution of which story has had impacted on perspectives such as historical perspective, perspective on civilization, aesthetic standards, and so on.
In Japan, the function of museums has been similar to the counterpart of the West. By reflecting on the repercussion against Ainu, one of the Indigenous People in Japan, Ainu Culture Promotion Law has been enacted in 1997 through replacing the notorious law, Native Protection Law, and accordingly, Ainu culture has been promoted at the national level. Also, in September 2007, the UN Declaration for the Indigenous People’s Rights has been adopted at the General Assembly. Although the “Indigenous Rights” are not necessarily fully realized in Japan, a number of the Indigenous People have started empowering themselves on account of the UN Declaration.
In this context, the City Museum of Asahikawa has renewed its exhibit. This museum has an Ainu curator, and has had a connection with the local Ainu communities. The renewal of this museum’s exhibit has to receive much attention not only from academic community but also museum community. Indeed, this museum has demonstrated a sort of model on how to transform modern museums of ethnology and anthropology into museums of human rights.
For this symposium, we would welcome a curator from that museum, the director of the Ainu Memorial Museum, and a chair for Ainu Traditional House Restoration Project, and they will talk about the possibility of establishing museums on/by Ainu as museums of Human Rights.

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