Geismar, Haidy

In contract. Treasured Possessions, Cultured Resources: Intellectual and Cultural Property and indigenous rights in the Pacific. Duke University Press, Material Worlds Series.
 (2010). Moving images: John Layard, fieldwork and photography on Malakula since 1914. (with Anita Herle). Crawford House Australia/ Hawaii University Press.

(forthcoming, 2011). H. Geismar and W. Mohns. Database relations: rethinking the database in the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and National Museum. In C. Pinney and N. Mookherjee (eds) The aesthetics of nations: Anthropological and historical approaches. Special Issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

(forthcoming) R. Regenvanu and H. Geismar. Pig Banks: Re-imagining the economy in Vanuatu. in Social Movements, Cultural Heritage and the State in Oceania, E. Hviding & K.M. Rio (eds.). Oxford: Sean Kingston Publishing.

(Forthcoming, 2011) “Material Culture Studies” and other ways to theorize objects: a primer to a regional debate. Comparative Studies in Society and History

(2010) Coleccionando kastom: renacimiento cultural en Lamap, Malakula. In Moana: culturas de los islas de Pacifica. Mexico: National Museum of Anthropology

(2009) Stone Men of Malekula on Malakula: an ethnography of an ethnography. Ethnos 74(2):199-228

(2009) with Joshua Bell. Materialising Oceania. Introduction and Guest editors The Australian Journal of Anthropology Special Edition 20: 3-27

(2009) The Photograph and the Malanggan. The Australian Journal of Anthropology Special edition (see above) 20: 48–73

(2008) Cultural Property, Museums and the Pacific – re-framing the debates (introduction and guest editor to special section of the journal). The International Journal of Cultural Property, May 2008. 109 - 122

(2008) Alternative market values? Interventions into auctions in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Contemporary Pacific. 20(2): 291-327

(2006) Malakula: A Photographic Collection. Comparative Studies in Society and History. 48(3): 520-563

(2006) Building sites of memory: the Ground Zero Sonic Memorial Sound Walk. Fabrications: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand 15(2): 1-11

(2005) Copyright in Context: carvings, carvers and commodities in Vanuatu. American Ethnologist 33(3): 437-459.

(2005) Reproduction, creativity, restriction:  material culture and copyright in Vanuatu. Journal of Social Archaeology. 5(1): 25-52

 (2004) Introduction; Materializing Ethnography. (with Heather Horst). Journal of Material Culture 9(1). 5-10

(2004) The Materiality of Contemporary Art in Vanuatu. Journal of Material Culture, 9(1). 43-58

(2003) Negotiating Materiality: International and Local Museum Practices at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and National Museum” (with Prof. Chris Tilley). Oceania 73:3: 170-188

(2001) What’s in a Price? An Ethnography of Tribal Art at Auction. Journal of Material Culture, 6(1): 25-49.
Reprinted in: N. Thrift and A. Amin (eds.). 2003. The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Press and in D. Inglis and M. Herrero (eds.). 2008. Art and Aesthetics. Zaragoza: Portico Librerias


History and Theory of Museums (G49.1500)
Topics in Museum Studies: Cultural Property, Rights and Museums (G49.3330)
Topics in Museum Studies: Anthropology in and of Museums (G49.3330)
Topics in Museum Studies: Making a Museum with the DSNY Materiality (G14.3392)
Anthropology of Art (V14.0321)
Economic Anthropology: Money, Markets, Morality (V14.0801.001)

Current News / Projects
Updated August 2011


During the past academic year I have been busy revising my manuscript Treasured Possessions, in contract with Duke University Press. The book is a comparative exploration of the ways in which intellectual and cultural property are being "indigenized" in Vanuatu and New Zealand, and draws on ethnographic research I've been undertaking over the past ten years. It's been exciting to draw initiatives that develop Maori brands and trademarks and ni-Vanuatu copyright into dialogue and to emphasise the framework of cultural heritage, cultural policy and museums that increasing connect ideas about IP to cultural property and cultural heritage. There have been so many new developments as I have been writing in the emergent field of IP and traditional knowledge, it's very inspiring!


"The Virus in the City" By Sero Kuautonga, phone cards, pen and acrylic paint on canvas, specially commissioned for the exhibition Port vila Mi Lavem Yu"

In addition I've been working on a number of smaller writing projects, a survey of the theory and practice of digital technologies in museum for an upcoming volume called Digital Anthropology, edited by Daniel Miller and Heather Horst, and a discussion of urban experience in Port Vila which drew on that exhibition I co-curated with Eric Wittersheim (EHESS, IRIS), Port Vila I love you (Port Vila Mi Lavem Yu) which opened at the East West Center Hawaii in May. The exhibition brought together specially commissioned film, photography and contemporary art with collections of material culture from urban vanuatu collected by myself but also by a number of friends and colleagues living and working in Port Vila. It provoked a good deal of discussion in Honolulu on the Pacific experience of globalization and urbanization.

In July I was briefly in residence at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt. The new director, Clementine Deliss, comes from a contemporary art curating background and has developed one of the museum's three villas into a research laboratory where scholars and artists both live and work with the collections and create public output. During this time I wrote a piece about the relationship between contemporary art and ethnographic museums and had a number of provocative conversations with artists and curators.

In May, my colleague in NYU Sociology, Fernando Dominguez Rubio, convened a working group on Materiality. Our first meeting was a great success, with archaeologists, art historians, anthropologists and historians from several NYC universities discussing research interests and thinking about intersecting interests, and different perspectives on material culture, materiality. We plan to meet several times a year, to hold an informal reading group and also to sponsor other events.

I continue to edit the popular blog This year especially has been a good one for the blog with the addition of Heather Horst, Aaron Glass and Fernando Rubio to our editorial "board". We also inaugurated an occassional paper series which is indexed by the Library of Congress, which aims to make available unconventional works or works that might not be published in other forms. To date the blog has received 200,000 unique visitors from all over the world.


Last year I taught the undergraduate classes in the anthropology of art, graduate seminars in anthropology and museums and digital culture and also conducted the research seminar for the Museum Studies MA program. Over the summer I have been developing two new classes, an undergraduate survey course for the Morse Academic Plan's Cultures and Contexts program on the Pacific Islands and a graduate seminar on New Property Formations.
I am also working with the Guantanamo Public Memory Project and NYU Public History program to devise a class that will work to develop an exhibition about the history and oral history of the Guantanamo Bay which will hopefully travel nationwide.

Updated on 06/10/2015