My name is Amaani Khan, I am British Asian and I am in Year 12 at Oxford Spires Academy. I chose an anklet amulet worn on a child’s foot to ward off evil eye as my object. I was particularly drawn to this object, as I am really interested by the concept of evil eye. Evil eye (nazar) is a widely revered concept within South Asian and Islamic culture, as well as many other cultures. My mum was, in a way, the reason why I picked this object, as she always talks about ‘Nazar’ and refers to it as being something that should be feared and prevented. I liked the fact that the object explores quite an obscure and rare theme and at the same time something that I had personally heard about and was familiar with at home.
I decided to present my podcast in the form of a poem as I enjoy writing poems (and creative writing) and I thought that a poem would be a nice medium to explore the delicate nature of the object I chose. I faced challenges in actually starting the poem and knowing which perspective the poem should focus on and be written from. But eventually, I decided to write the poem from the perspective of a mother. I felt the poem would be most poignant from this perspective, as it manages to capture the delicate and intimate nature of the object. I also named the poem ‘nazar’, as it means evil eye in Urdu.
This project has really changed my perspective of Pitt Rivers. Previously, I hadn’t realised how diverse and inclusive Pitt Rivers was of having objects from many countries and cultures. Seeing so many artefacts from places outside of Europe that relate to my own identity was so refreshing and inspiring. Equally, the Pitt Rivers project really made me re-evaluate the ethics of museums and the argument as to how much ownership museums should or shouldn’t have over artefacts they may have taken from other countries. In addition, it made me think about how museums have previously labelled their artefacts and the importance of re-establishing and dismantling these labels and instead giving them labels which aren’t culturally insensitive, offensive or racist.
I hope Pitt Rivers can continue to be a place that aims to critique the way we look at artefacts and objects. I also hope people can find themselves represented in Pitt Rivers, as I have.