“Should Museums Welcome Parody?”

15 01 2012

"Should Museums Welcome Parody? Lords of the Samurai: The Legacy of a Daimyo Family," by Morgan Pitelka.  Early Modern Japan, vol. 19: 2011That’s a question posed by scholar Morgan Pitelka in a review of the book Lords of the Samurai: The Legacy of a Daimyo Family published in the journal Early Modern Japan in 2011.

The book itself was published by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and accompanied the same Lords of the Samurai exhibit which inspired our critical intervention.

The review explicates cultural politics otherwise elided, duly noting the issues raised in the rich dialogue generated by the intervention.

As long as museum exhibitions and catalogs are not subject to the same processes of peer review and academic criticism as other forms of scholarship, they should be open to—and indeed welcome—informal and if needed anonymous critiques of the sort orchestrated by Majime Sugiru and his band of merry artist-activists. Because in the end, the complicated and at times heated conversation about history, identity, and representation that can be traced through the websites, interventions, blogs, and even radio shows related to the Lords of the Samurai exhibition adds up to one of the more significant and compelling English-language critiques—albeit in the form of online hypertext—of the politics of museum displays of Japanese culture.

A pdf of the entire review is available here.

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