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Anthropology and Museum Studies

Museum Studies Faculty


Hope Amason

Dr. Hope Amason teaches anthropology and museum studies at Central Washington University.  Dr. Amason’s interests in museums began, during a summer position at the Arkansas Museum of Discovery (AMOD) in Little Rock, Arkansas, specifically with AMOD's summer camp program, where she developed recreational activities that were integrated with science lessons learned in summer camp.  She also performed in The Animal Show and The Big Electric Show, informal educational programs aimed at teaching science in fun, innovative ways.  After she graduated from Hendrix College in 2002, she worked at the front desk of the Old State House Museum, also in Little Rock, where she provided interpretive tours for all ages.  While in graduate school for anthropology at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Amason was the education assistant at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History (SMOH) in Springdale, Arkansas.  She developed lesson plans, led teacher workshops, and worked to reorganize SMOH’s teaching collection, including “discovery boxes,” which were loaned to regional K-12 teachers.  In 2010 she moved to Washington State to work in the Department of Anthropology & Museum Studies.  At the MCE Dr. Amason has worn many hats: curation, exhibition design, production, and installation, public relations, as well as informal, free-choice outreach and curriculum-based education programs.  Because of Dr. Amason’s experience working in museum education, she is concerned with understanding the larger context in which museum learning takes place and how such an understanding can transform interpretive practice.

At Central, Dr. Amason teaches the Introduction to Museum Studies (Anth 360) and the Learning in Museums course (Anth 498)


Mark Auslander.
Dr. Mark Auslander teaches Anthropology and Museum Studies and serves as director of the Museum of Culture and Environment,. He has particular interests in museum practice and the politics of race, in Africa, the African Diaspora and in African American communities. His research has centered on the ways in which exhibitionary complexes and memorialization practices allow, often in subtle and nuanced ways, for innovative forms of popular critique and political participation within historically-excluded social networks.

His recent book, The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family (University of Georgia Press, 2011) is an historical ethnography centered on highly contested white-run museum within a former slave cabin, associated with the enslaved woman “Miss Kitty,” who lived c. 1822-1851.  For most local whites, this Oxford, Georgia museum has long been a deeply nostalgic site celebrating an ostensibly “loyal slave” and a  bygone area of “mutual understanding” between the races.  For most local African Americans, the museum summons up memories of racial and sexual violence.  The book reconstructs the intricate dynamics of faith, slavery and kinship at the heart of these divergent narratives of slavery and its legacies and examine recent struggles for racial reconciliation among the present-day heirs to this painful history.   Dr. Auslander also has strong research interests in contemporary museums in southern Africa, especially in low-income rural and urban communities, in indigenous museums in North America, in the cultural politics of representing nature and culture in zoos, eco-museums and bio-reserves in Africa and the U.S., and in museum representations of nuclear weapons production and nuclear energy.

Dr. Auslander’s professional museum experience includes serving on the content development team of African Voices, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s permanent exhibition on African and Diasporic cultures and history, which developed through careful consultation with African American and African immigrant stakeholders.  He has been a Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, and a core faculty member in the development of the Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America exhibition at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.  He has consulted with the Minneapolis Institute of Art on redesigning their Africa galleries and isa research associate with the Smithsonian Institutional History Division.  He serves as the Washington state representative of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG) and coordinates the AAMG working group on disability accommodation, accessibility and inclusivity.

Dr. Auslander has organized exhibitions on slavery, desegregation, refugee aesthetic practice and African and Afro-Atlantic art, and published catalogue essays on African environmental art and contemporary artistic engagements with molecular biology. He is currently writing an historical ethnography of African Americans at the Smithsonian Institution, c. 1847-1990.

His Museum Studies teaching responsibilities at Central include the Exhibition Design course (Anth 361) and Exhibiting Nature: Museums and the Environment (Anth 498). He also serves as the Museum Studies minor advisor.

Kathleen Barlow, ((Ph.D) chair of the Department of the Anthropology and Museum Studies, is a sociocultural anthropologist with particular specialization in psychological anthropological.  She has strong interests in the comparative anthropology of motherhood and childhood, and ethnographic specialization in the cultures of New Guinea, Melanesia and Oceania. She is deeply interested in the cultural politics of indigenous and tribal museums, and in living history representations of the American West. She at times teaches the Introduction to Museum Studies course.

Lynn Bethke  (M.A.) Lynn Bethke is the Collections Manager for the Museum of Culture and Environment (MCE) and has been working in museums for over a decade.  After earning degrees in Anthropology and English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, she moved to Seattle.  While pursuing her Masters degree in Museology from the University of Washington, Bethke worked as Collections Assistant for the Archaeology Department at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.  While there, she worked on projects as diverse as the rehousing of petroglyph rubbings, integrating archival holdings, and processing prehistoric basketry.  Since coming to CWU in 2007, she has overseen the move of the MCE's collections, spearheaded digitization efforts, and helps keep the museum running smoothly on a day to day basis.  Bethke oversees collections interns and teaches Curation and Collection Management (ANTH 362).

Lene Pedersen (Ph.D) is a sociocultural anthropologist specializing in southeast Asia, especially Indonesia and Bali.  She has strong interests in the politics of ethnographic representation, in indigenous and non-western museums and in ethnographic film.  She teaches the Visual Anthropology course, an elective in the Museum Studies program.