Editorial Contest Winner | ‘The Missing Anthropological Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History’


我们每天发表一篇文章,以表彰第四届年度学生社论大赛的前 10 名获奖者。

下面是亚历克·法伯(Alec Farber)16岁的一篇文章。

The Missing Anthropological Exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History serves 5 million visitors annually, ranging from elementary schools to foreign tourists. Although massive displays like the dinosaur halls are famous draws, the museum is also well known for its anthropological exhibits, which include the Hall of Asian Peoples, the Hall of African Peoples, and so forth. However, for 148 years, the museum has decided to not create a hall for Europeans. The museum, in order to present visitors an updated view of anthropology, must add a Hall of European Peoples.

The idea of more European culture in our institutions can sound unnecessary, and even racist, to many. But before judging, ask yourself: What are the consequences of portraying Europeans as above anthropology? When only people of color are exhibited in the museum, visitors learn that there must be something intrinsically different about European culture. The exhibits teach this because they are rooted in a white, 19th century worldview. Although updated, the exhibits still reflect a time when European artifacts were considered “art” or “history,” while other artifacts were labeled “natural history.” The museum’s European superiority was so extreme that, in 1897, six Eskimos were displayed solely as “a source of amusement” for visitors. Such racism in anthropology was common at a time when anything European was considered “civilization,” while anything else was labeled “primitive.”

Admirably, anthropologists have worked for years to replace racism with more modern principles. These principles include that all cultures are equal and deserve respect, and that anthropologists shouldn’t label a culture “primitive” just because they are different. What the museum has not done, by excluding Europe from display, is teach visitors that all cultures deserve the same level of scientific scrutiny. The truth is that anthropology should apply to all cultures, and no ethnicity should be above scientific study. Margaret Mead once said that “the more complex a society becomes, the more fully the law must take into account the diversity of the people who live in it.” I would argue that the more complex our view of culture becomes, the more fully our institutions must take into account the diversity of the people who visit.

If the museum is truly for all people, then it must be about all people. There is nothing intrinsically different between Europe’s culture and that of the rest of the world. All cultures are equally complex and impressive. The only reason to isolate the study of Europe from the rest of the world would be because Europe is somehow special, something we know to be false. European culture is unique, but not uniquely superior. Yet, until Europeans are included in the Museum’s Anthropological Halls, visitors will learn otherwise.

Works Cited

Kaufman, Michael T. “About New York; A Museum’s Eskimo’s Skeletons and Its Own. The New York Times. August 21, 1993.

Popova, Maria. “Margaret Mead on the Root of Racism and the Liability of Law Enforcement”. brainpickings.org. 2014.