Drums Along the Scioto: Losing our marbles but gaining new insights on Hopewell material culture based on contemporary Shawnee ceremonial practices
Tuesday, April 11; 12 p.m.
Seip Mound, the third largest mound in the Hopewell world, was excavated in the 1920s. Among the iconic artifacts recovered from these excavations were five, small, spherical stones made from steatite. The excavators originally identified these objects as marbles, based on no evidence other than their own cultural preconceptions. During recent consultations with the three Shawnee tribes, Brad Lepper, Senior Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio History Connection, and Ben Barnes, 2nd Chief of the Shawnee Tribe, began a conversation about the Shawnee water drum, which suggested an alternative interpretation of these "marbles" based on the material culture and ceremonial traditions of a contemporary tribe who undoubtedly participated to some extent in the Hopewellian ceremonial interaction sphere. The two continued this dialogue and now argue that these stone spheres likely are components of a Hopewell water drum. If they're right, it would be the oldest evidence for a drum in eastern North America. The event will be hosted by the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, and will be free and open to the public.
A Look at Latin America Expo
Thursday, April 13; 6 to 8:30 p.m.
A Look at Latin America Expo is a showcase dedicated to sharing the many facets and faces of expressive culture from Latino and Latin American people. The Expo will present a variety of expressive cultures from Latina/o artists and will feature live music, dance, and spoken word performances, and free food will be provided. The event will be free and open to the public, and will be sponsored by IU's Center on Latin American and Caribbean Studies, El Centro Comunal, La Casa/Latino Cultural Center, and Latino Studies.
Beauty with Hidden Flaws: Maintenance and Transformation of Sowei Identity Through Repair and Alteration
Friday, April 14; 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Kristin Otto, a Ph.D. student in IU's Department of Anthropology, will discuss the aesthetically distinctive, helmet-style sowei masks of West Africa's Sande (or Bundu) society, which have become fixtures in many Western museum collections, including the Mathers Museum's collection.
Otto notes that scholarship has yielded important insights into the beautiful, stylistically standard aesthetic markers of sowei that materialize symbolic and cultural values. Attention to non-standard features, however, reveals practical formation of individualized form and identity.
Her close examination of the sowei masks in the collections of the Mathers Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of African Art, and a private collection reveal instances of intervention over time on the vast majority of the sowei masks. These interventions include physical alteration of the material form, repair of damage, maintenance or application of aesthetic standards, and transformation of identity.
Otto concludes the physical evidence of these actions not only indicates the continued process of making sowei, but also illustrates the active and purposeful negotiation of a continuum between beauty and ugliness by both local and global forces.
The event will be free and open to the public.