While historically focusing on the object, the study of ethics in conservation has expanded to consider the human aspect of conservation work. This book offers a flexible framework to guide decision-making in line with this development, offering an inclusive, compassionate approach to collections care.

This edited volume contributes theories and international examples for advancing conservation practice and providing best practice for the field that center people in conservation of cultural heritage and collections care. The first part examines the ethical theory that underpins conservation decision-making by challenging outdated norms, introducing updated methods, and demonstrating new ways to approach compassionate collections care. The second part considers the challenges of human-centred ethics in conservation practice, while the final part provides real-world examples and case studies of these best practices in action, including successful challenges to colonial authority. By presenting both theoretical and practical aspects of prioritizing people, this volume establishes the need for rethinking conservation approaches while demonstrating how to do so effectively.

Combining theory and practice, Prioritizing People in Ethical Decision-Making and Caring for Cultural Heritage Collections is valuable reading for conservation professionals, including collections managers, conservators, curators, and registrars. It will also benefit students working in Cultural Heritage Conservation, Museum studies, and Heritage Studies, as well as those taking courses in Art History and Anthropology.

Introduction: Purpose and Theory of Human-Centered Ethics in Conservation, Nina Owczarek; Part 1 - Ethics in Conservation Theory; 1. An Analysis of Key Cultural Heritage Resolutions, Documents, Charters, and Legislation, Madeline Hagerman; 2. Examining Ethics from a Caregiving Perspective to Inform Human-centered Conservation, Nina Owczarek; 3. Indigenous Storywork as an Ethical Guide for Caring with Social Practice Art and Artists, Rebecca Gordon; 4. Lessons from the Commons to Move from Enclosure to Shared Stewardship, Jessica Walthew; Part 2 – Issues of Human-centered Ethics in Conservation Practice; 5. Considering the Impacts of Colonization Trauma when Exhibiting Indigenous Cultures in Museums, Tharron Bloomfield; 6. Repatriation as Conservation: Moving Toward a Decolonized Conservation Ethic, Daniel Schwartz; 7. Prioritizing Communities Through Conservation Documentation, Ellen Pearlstein and Linda Yamane; 8. Proposing a Vulnerable and Transparent Approach to Conservation Documentation, Natalya Swanson and Celeste Mahoney; 9. Incorporating Philosophy and Ethics in Objects Conservation Curricula, Lauren Fair and Lara Kaplan; 10. Religious Values as Conservation Practice: Caring for Judaica, Margalit Schindler; Part 3 - Integrating the Human-Centered Approach Applied in Context; 11. Conservation as Activism: Preservation at the George Floyd Global Memorial, Jeanelle Austin and Nicole Grabow; 12. Post-Disaster Cultural Recovery in Haiti, 2010-2021: Reflections on a Decade of Collaboration, Olsen Jean Julien and Stephanie E. Hornbeck; 13. Rethinking "Invasive": Approaches to Informed Analysis and Object Care with Spiritually-Imbued Objects, Marci J. Burton, Christian de Brer, Carlee S. Forbes, and Erica P. Jones; 14. Reconsidering Dust and How Personal Experience Informs Preservation Decisions, Lisa Conte and Kerith Koss Schrager; 15. Reflections on Authority in the Conservation of Indigenous Objects in Museums, Ellen Carrlee, Amy Tjiong, and Adrienne Gendron.