Jason Jackson, director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, has visited China five times in the sake of his research.
Museums in the United States have been working for the past thirty years with Native American communities as well as communities from around the world to share knowledge.
Jackson discussed some of his research from his trips to areas such as Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi with IU students at the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center on Wednesday. He was their first lunchtime speaker this year, kicking off the event the group hosts every other Wednesday.
“The last 25 or so years of my life have been spent in the Indian country,” Jackson said. “That’s taught me a few things that have made my life richer and better experienced.”
Jackson said the Mathers Museum has been involved with three Chinese museums, as well as two American museums, to expand their cultural knowledge and understanding of other regions.
“You see two sides, the culture of America and of Southern China,” Chinese calligrapher James Yang said. “Up close, they’re different cultures.”
Thanks to several foundations funding their travels, this research project has been a success, Jackson said. The researchers from the Chinese museums have been able to study American culture. Vice versa, American researchers involved with the museum have had the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture.
“With what was once an awkward relationship, we’re starting to learn how to negotiate,” Jackson said. “I never thought I’d leave the United States, let alone go on a 15 or 20 hour plane ride.”
Jackson has come to love the country and the people living there, and he claims the experience is influential.
The Mathers Museum recently submitted a request for a grant. With this, the research could expand into allowing IU students and faculty to travel to places in China and learn about their culture.
“We’re not only meeting our colleagues that work in the museums there, but going with them out into the countryside to find out how they’re partnering with people in the communities in their regions,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s discussion about his trip was given at the FNECC. The group will be bringing in more speakers throughout the year to talk about different cultural topics.
“We hope to continue our reach and work with various people and representatives, people who can talk about working in various indigenous communities around the world, not just North America,” FNECC Director Nicky Belle said.