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The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg
The New History in an Old Museum is an exploration of "historical truth" as presented at Colonial Williamsburg. More than a detailed history of a museum and tourist attraction, it examines the packaging of American history, and consumerism and the manufacturing of cultural beliefs. Through extensive fieldwork—including numerous site visits, interviews with employees and vi ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 17th 1997 by Duke University Press Books
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This book is frustrating. The authors present themselves as dispassionate anthropologists, which excuses them from explaining their own beliefs or opinions, yet they have a clear and strong bias. Their basic claim - that Colonial Williamsburg's adherence to its corporate line made it challenging for them to really teach true social history - is reasonable, apparently supported by their research, and honestly, not that surprising. To claim that CW's interpretive strategy "destroys history" is ext ...more
I have been following the articles by Richard Handler and Erick Gable for some year now as a staff member in the museum community. There was some response by Dr. Carson of Colonial Williamsburg but I believe there needs to be more. This book, which reviews almost ten years of field research at CW, is anything but a neutral position. By their own admission in the final chapter, they claim that all anthropology is strictly Boasian Relativistic. It that expression that exposes what I believe to be ...more