I really enjoyed the field trip and the high school students’ incites and reactions to the Imagine Africa Exhibit. The pre-field trip activity was really engaging and I was so impressed by what the high school students had to say in my “Changing” group and in all the groups. It was great to work with the three students in the Changing group because a couple of them have recently come to the Student Success Center where I tutor and have worked with us. I got to get to know the high school students on an intellectual and a social level- some of the things the girls were saying were hilarious and Mia and I enjoyed ourselves talking to them on the bus. The Imagine Africa exhibit was very interesting. It was engaging and I liked a lot of the self-guided area- especially the Healing section. Some positive things that were said in the focus/feedback group is that being able to touch and interact with the exhibit was a plus. Being able to watch clips and listen to people talking about their own current practices added depth to the exhibit. I liked being able to create my own collage with the photos and listening to music. We were a little confused though whether the exhibit was meant to portray historic or current Africa because some of the concepts were current yet the artifacts were historic. I thought that the juxtaposed media was very interesting with the Disney representations of Africa like the Lion King, yet there was no signage asking us to be critical of these representations or to think about stereotypes and representation. It was obvious to me that the media was juxtaposed to create thought and analysis about representation but I’m not sure at all if it would be clear to all who see it.
The main thing that really upset me or I that I felt needed work was the Strength exhibit. I feel that the power and strength of a people, the “survivance” of a people, in the face of slavery and colonization and former and current exploitation deserved more honor and information that the Strength section came close to exploring or displaying. The Strength exhibit talked about biology- strong malaria-resistant genes, and had a skull with a label on the forehead saying “Negro Skull from Africa.” I really think the whole anthropological science that used to “prove” the inferiority of Africans and non-whites needed to be acknowledged as racist and problematic. The historical problems relating to antiquated science were ignored and an Anthropology and Archeology museum like Penn cannot afford to ignore the racist legacy. The docent at least did acknowledge that many of the artifacts were unjustly stolen in conquest when she discussed the Benin area. I want to go back and explore the guided tour area on my own as I feel I missed a lot of interesting information.