Words You Never Expected to See in the Same Sentence: Rastafari Culture at the Smithsonian Institution

Blood clot exhibit!

When I saw that the Smithsonian is running an exhibit ’til Nov. 8 on Rastafarianism—“Discovering Rastafari!” is the horrible title—my first thought was this: I’d have given my eyeteeth to have heard the ensuing comedy of errors when white, Ivy League-bred curators negotiated with Rastas for artifacts.

Then, it occurred to me that everything in the show is probably already owned by white Brits.

Then there’s this question, which The New York Times, itself, raises: Why is this exhibit in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History?

the Rastafari exhibition does not really belong in the same museum as paleontological finds and collections of insects and gems. That placement is a relic of the 19th-century conception of the natural history museum as a temple devoted to exotic “natural” cultures and objects — evolutionary predecessors of the scientific West.

How unexpected.



#1 Chinou on 06.05.08 at 2:20 am

That’s fo’ true!

#2 sirensongs on 06.24.08 at 5:16 am

It probably all came from the private collection of Chris Blackwell. 😉

Leave a Comment