The Waterman Exhibit Gallery
In 2013, the Department’s Exhibit Gallery was renamed in honor of the late Richard Alan Waterman, a distinguished ethnomusicologist and anthropologist who spent his last years teaching at USF, and his wife Patricia Waterman, a noted folklorist and anthropologist, who taught in the department for many years, and passed away in 2016.
The Naidirolf: From Global Tourism to Local Identity
This exhibition is a response to the emerging discourse on ‘Viva La Florida’—Florida’s so called quincentennial. We take our inspiration from a recent essay in the Tampa Bay Times called “What Can We Learn on Florida’s 500th?” by John Belohlavek and Andy McLeod from the Florida Humanities Council. In this article, the authors argue that it is vitally important to understand contemporary Floridian identity to be able to meet the economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. They propose that the key to deciphering the complex identity of Floridians is to examine the ways in which history and heritage have shaped global citizenship. In this exhibition, we approach the challenge from an anthropological perspective, leveraging the philosophical insights of Horace Miner’s 1956 article on “The Nacirema” to turn the mirror on ourselves: The Naidirolf.
Here, we explore Naidirolf identity through global tourism, under the premise that, while objects represent the identities of their makers, collections represent the identities of their collectors. We argue that one way to understand Naidirolf identity is to examine the collections of the Naidirolf, who have traveled widely around the world collecting “pieces of places”. In this analysis of ancient British stone quarries, Richard Bradley recently coined the phrase “pieces of places” to suggest that the social and symbolic significance of the location from which items are acquired are sometimes just as important as the use value of those items. Similarly, in her cross-cultural examination of chiefly societies, Mary Helms argues that objects procured from geographically (and hence socially and temporally) distance places “are marked by the inalienable qualities associated with their unusual places or sources of origin”.
As Marcel Mauss’s examination of Pacific societies has shown, gifting creates social relations. By gifting their collections to USF, the collectors remain forever linked to the objects on display here. Annette Weiner, in her own examination of South Pacific exchange networks, refers to this relationship as “keeping-while-giving”. According to Weiner, some culturally significant objects may be lent or circulated but will always refer back to their original owners as their “inalienable possessions”, which give a tangible durability to their identity. Thus, although legal ownership may be transferred through exchange, the identity of the maker is extended into the object itself.
Given the ties that bind collectors to their collections, Alfred Gell argues that collections are enmeshed in social relations and that the objects in a collection have just as much agency as the person who created them. As a result, this exhibition represents but a temporary resting place in the broader “cultural biographies” of the things contained herein. Igor Kopytoff uses the phrase “cultural biography of things” to call attention to the cultural constructions and life histories of objects as they flow in and out of various phases—from gift to commodity—and how these flows condition meaning and materiality. He argues that cultural biographies of things “make salient what might otherwise remain obscure” about the culture in which things take an active role.
In this exhibition, we explore the cultural biographies of the objects in the collections, and juxtapose them with the personal biographies of their collectors. Doing so we hope will reveal insights into the identities that compose the mysterious Naidirolf, who have long been fascinated by peoples and objects from faraway places.
We are very grateful to all those who assisted in the development and production of this exhibition: Liz Bird, Carole Bumford, Destiny Crider, Karla Davis, Marion Gatliff, Vince Kral, Liz McCoy, Jeff Moates, Neesheta Patram, Travis Puterbaugh, Sue Rhinehart, Debbie Roberson, Arleyn Simon, Noel Smith, Alyssa Thomas, Linda Whiteford, and Helen Wyskiver.
Curator: Dr. E. Christian Wells
Preparators: Alaina Bridges, Laura Collins, Paige Downey, Lily Dresser, Samantha Goelz, Molly Keane, Ariana Kepner, Natasha Koller, Luke Lopez, Adelina Mititelu, Jessica Raposo, Jenni Royce, Lindsay Shelton, Chaneese Smith, Sierra Young