This exhibition at CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge), curated and researched by Paula López Caballero, displays photographs and ethnographic fieldnotes produced by Cambridge-based anthropologist Susan Drucker-Brown (1936-2023) in the Mixtec-speaking village of Jamiltepec (Oaxaca, Mexico) in 1957 and 1958. She was one of the first women anthropologists in Mexico, and a pioneer in the study of women’s clothing and the changes clothes were undergoing, with the replacement of handmade (loom) garments by industrial ones.

The exhibition not only presents this little-known aspect of Drucker-Brown’s work, it also invites us to reflect on three topics: firstly, the processes of mestizaje, indigeneity and modernization experienced in Mexico in the mid-twentieth century at an indigenous and rural locality. Secondly, the everyday life of ethnographic research and, in particular, the role of women in fieldwork. And thirdly, the afterlives of the materials produced during fieldwork, either as collections in museums or archives, or as part of restitution efforts to the villages where the anthropologists worked.

HAR readers may be familiar with the exhibition’s curator, López Caballero’s, recent HAR piece on medical practices in Zinacantán, Mexico, in the 1940s.

The exhibition on Drucker-Brown’s work will be open from April 22 to May 31, 2024 at CRASSH. An opening reception will be held on April 22, along with the related symposium ‘Rethinking anthropological fieldwork in historical perspective,’ held by CRASSH and the Cambridge Department of Social Anthropology on the same date. For more information about the exhibition and these events, please see the exhibition page.

This exhibition is organized with the support of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova, Fundación Harp Helú, Centre for Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, Department of Social Anthropology, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, Brown Family.

Sarah Pickman: contributions /