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189 AFTERWORD F or the foreseeable future, it appears unlikely that Panamanian museums will become major repositories of Kuna molas. Museums in the United States will continue to play an important role as a resource for both Kuna and nonKuna researchers. Kuna people who wish to study the development of molas from the twentieth century, particularly the designs on mola panels, will rely on published or online materials or visits to museums, especially to the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. In terms of the New Museology, other roles played by museums , including the education of the whole community about the different indigenous groups comprising the nation, are currently not popular in Panama, so efforts such as the Kuna community museum initiatives in the Kuna Yala comarca may be the only museums in Panama that contain artifacts of Kuna material culture .1 These indigenous museums are currently unable to house collections of molas under environmentally stable conditions, which is important since molas will over time deteriorate in the hot humid climate. Another trend in museology is cooperation with the indigenous groups from which the museum collections originate in order to gain a better understanding of the meaning and context of the collections. The concept of the “relational museum,” developed at the Pitt Rivers Museum, brings a new understanding to the importance of museum collections for research by reinforcing the benefits of providing historical and contemporary context to the objects in partnership with the originating communities. The contemporary museum practice of building connections between collections and the originating community is exemplified by a project of the Field Museum in Chicago. In conjunction with a government grant to photograph artifacts, including all of its Kuna collection, the Field Museum received funding to conduct video interviews with Kuna people in Panama .2 Efrain Castillero Gonzalez, who was trained as a librarian at the University of Panama in the 1950s and performed this role on the island of Ustupu, was one of the interviewees.3 Kuna librarians are frequently historians for their islands. Educated Kuna, such as Gonzalez, are likely involved in assisting Kuna leaders by becoming a sikkwi, a person who translates the leader ’s words into appropriate speech to communicate with nonKuna people in, for example, the Panamanian government. Gonzalez, affiliated with the Partido Liberal, was elected by the Kuna Yala comarca as a representative to the Panama General Assembly.4 The following dialogue is the translation, from the Spanish, of part of an interview with Efrain Castillero Gonzalez: Interviewer: Could you give a definition of what a mola is? Answer: I am going to tell you a definition of mola. The mola is the identity of the Kuna People. A definition. . . . Because in no other part of the world will you find the mola worn. It is the identity of the Kuna people. Interviewer: So, like this, the Kunas wear their identity? Answer: And this won’t end! It is tradition! A healthy culture. Many people feel that the mola is famous around the world. Because a dress like yours is not identified with a (particular) culture.5 190 Introduction Afterword This confirms research in this book regarding the importance of the mola blouse for maintaining the identity of the Kuna people. The usefulness of existing museum mola collections will be become increasingly important. Together with the continual addition of contemporary molas, mola collections form a resource for researchers, especially for the Kuna people for whom the mola is an intrinsic part of their identity. An outstanding mola with Christian imagery. Details from this mola are in figures A.11, A.12, and A.13. Private collection, EHC 2891. ...


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