Decolonizing the Bancroft Library

Mark Johnson : Anthropology

Mentor: Jun Sunseri, Anthropology

Throughout the 1900s Berkeley Anthropologists documented the ethnographic information of many Native Californian tribes for fear that their lifeways and languages were soon to become extinct in the wake of the burgeoning United States. The Bancroft Library is now steward of these ethnographic collections. While the public institution is responsible to make the collections available to all without bias, one Native Californian community has protested that open access to these collections leaves their community vulnerable to multiple dangers such as misrepresentation in academic articles and potential looting of the sacred sites described therein. Mark’s research seeks to discover how public access to these ethnographic collections impacts the descendant communities and asks who has the right to access the ethnographic information of these Native Californian tribes?