Some Ugly Things That Nobody Studies: Provocations About Fire as a Museum Object



Palabras clave:

objetos relacionados al fuego, familia de objetos, colecciones etnográficas, Amazonia


For centuries, objects manufactured by Amazonian indigenous populations
have been collected and distributed to European museums. These have included many understudied fire-related objects. Certain categories of artifacts produced by fire or used in fire structures, such as pottery, are subject to regular analysis, but in narratives produced from these objects fire is almost absent, a mere coadjutant. Fire, however, is not limited to a secondary role in relationships, requiring an adjustment in the investigator’s gaze to tell stories about people and things through time, intertwined with the story of the fire itself. This article presents results of a study of ethnographic Amazonian artifacts housed in European museums, with fire use as an investigative guiding thread. By applying the concept of family of objects to fire-related artifacts, the study intends to demonstrate how such an approach can inspire new narratives on objects that are, despite their shared relation to fire, frequently interpreted separately.