The following annotated bibliography includes works from panelists at the conference and other resources that may be used provide both historical and present day information about the implications of slavery and settler colonialism and how these play a role in the complexities of decolonizing museums.
Rassool, Ciraj. “Remaking an ethnographic museum in Cologne: the new Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum–Cultures of the World.” Museum Worlds 2 (2014): 189+. Gale Academic OneFile (accessed November 24, 2020).https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A396615817/AONE?u=upenn_main&sid=AONE&xid=3e2f2296.
Dr. Ciraj Rassool discusses international efforts to rethink the place of the ethnographic museum. He evaluates several cultural institutions, such as the Tropenmuseum in the Netherlands and the Museum der Kulturen in Switzerland, and their current position in regards to colonialism, seeking to unravel their endeavors in moving from a colonial discourse to a global context. A particular emphasis is placed in Cologne’s Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, specifically in their exhibition, “People in Their Worlds.” The author compares and contrasts the manner in which the different components of the exhibition utilize scholarship, cultural analysis, scenography, and design to engage with visitors in debates on key issues and to show the provenance of their distinct artifacts. Dr. Rassool concludes by suggesting how there is still work to be done for museums to fully embrace their colonial legacies and achieve a racism-free environment. Nonetheless, the steps already taken by the different institutions raise possibilities of new, more critical modes of visiting and producing public scholarship.
Rassool, Ciraj. “Re-Storing The Skeletons Of Empire: Return, Reburial And Rehumanisation In Southern Africa”. Journal Of Southern African Studies 41 (3) (2015): 653-670. DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2015.1028002
In this publication, Dr. Ciraj Rassool seeks to dismantle “empire” and its legacies through the process of repatriation. He urges the reader to go beyond its territorial convention and to conceptualize it as an extractive and hierarchical relation of knowledge, with the modern museum emerging as one of its key institutions. Under this framework, the author reviews the repatriation of the remains of Klaas and Troi Pienaar, a Khoisan couple that was disinterred illegally from their grave on a South African farm in 1909 by an Austrian anthropologist. Dr. Rassool’s approach is useful in emphasizing the “rehumanizing” nature of the process by depicting how the remains were returned as those of citizens of their home country and not as objects of race. That is, they were returned in coffins, as recently deceased human beings, and extensive research was conducted on their life and death. This study serves as a jumping-off point to stress how returns and repatriation present an opportunity to decolonize the museum, providing it with means to rethink its relationship with society.
Geller, Pamela L. “Building Nation, Becoming Object: The Bio-Politics of the Samuel G. Morton Crania Collection.” Historical Archaeology 54, no. 1 (2020): 52-70. DOI : 10.1007/s41636-019-00218-3.
In this article, Dr. Pamela Geller explores how collections of crania in the United States contributed to the formation of a national identity. She uses a biohistorical approach to examine Dr. Samuel G. Morton’s, the father of physical anthropology, establishment of racial hierarchies and his legitimization of the supposed idea of American superiority. She contextualizes the creation of “them” versus “us” and surveys how racism and nationalist agendas contributed to this separation. Furthermore, Dr. Geller discusses “bio-power,” the evolution of humans’ biological traits by political means. She surveys bio-power’s influence on the creation and perpetuation of Otherness and normativity of whiteness, as well as the impact on necropolitics. In her final remarks, Dr. Geller discusses the necessity of reexamining “official history” and the importance of highlighting long silenced narratives moving forward.
Geller, Pamela L., and Christopher M. Stojanowski. “The Vanishing Black Indian: Revisiting Craniometry and Historic Collections.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 162, no. 2 (2017): 267-84. DOI : 10.1002/ajpa.23115.
In this publication, the authors reexamine seven of the crania in the Morton collection. The skulls studied are from Seminole warriors who were killed between the years 1812 to 1858 (the Seminole Wars) and were buried in Florida. Dr. Pamela Geller and Dr. Christopher Stojanowski utilize the crania collection as a way to view the shifting social, historical, and political ideas of race in the United States. The introduction provides a background on Dr. Samuel G. Morton, father of craniometry, and his controversial racist legacy. The authors also discuss their methods which include the use of comparative databases, followed by a section explaining the results of the reevaluation. The history and materiality of hybridity have impacted repatriation efforts and how mixed races individuals are treated. An example of this mistreatment includes the erasure of peoples, such as the Black Seminoles, from official histories and the anti-miscegenation policies that were commonly accepted in the 19th century. Their analysis of these social constructs illustrate the importance of contextualization and reevaluating methods of repatriation. Dr. Geller and Dr. Stojanowski express that the focus of their article is not race, but instead the complex process of racialization.
Scott, Monique. “Museums Matter in the Current Climate of Anti-Black Racism.” Anthropology News 60, no. 2 (March 20, 2019). https://doi.org/10.1111/an.1119.
In this engaging article, Dr. Monique Scott explores the need for anthropological/ethnographic museum reform through the lens of contemporary anti-racist movements. Dr. Scott comments on prevailing racism in current politics, monuments, and museums and calls upon the necessity to challenge racism within these spaces. Prominently, Dr. Scott notes the complexities of and opportunities within curating anthropological museums in this impassioned era. She speaks to her experiences as an advisor and facilitator of a tour at the American Museum of Natural History and as a curatorial advisor of the Penn Museum’s Africa Galleries to highlight both the trials but ultimately motivating potential to redefine racial/evolutionary perception within the museum space.
Scott, Monique. Rethinking Evolution in the Museum: Envisioning African Origins. London: Routledge, 2008.
Dr. Monique Scott outlines how human evolution is commonly represented in museums and provides insight into tactics to more effectively denounce falsities of the general public. She asserts that a frequently observed museum-goer’s interpretation of human evolution aligns with the unilinear, ‘progress’ driven, “Out of Africa” process which negatively represents African peoples as less modern or less evolved. Dr. Scott analyzes how the depiction of evolution in the Natural History Museum in London, the Horniman Museum, the National Museums of Kenya, and the American Museum of Natural History combat or contribute to this antiquated perspective. Of particular interest is Chapter Six, “The Black Counternarrative”, where Dr. Scott specifically analyzes the frequently divergent experience of black visitors in museums, citing her own experiences as well as those through gathered research and interviews. She also advocates for the importance of accessibility of museums and emphasizes the essentiality of challenging audiences, preferably with interactive elements or through teaching critical analysis skills.
Scott, Monique. “The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Teaching Human Evolution in the Museum.” Evolution: Education and Outreach 3, no. 2010 (August 21, 2010): 403–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12052-010-0252-y.
Dr. Monique Scott chronicles her experience as a doctoral student and later museum educator and researcher to comment on popular persuasions towards human evolution and provide strategies to challenge these commonly held beliefs. She asserts that the perpetuation of the “Out of Africa” perspective on human evolution (a misunderstanding of the timeline of evolution, the belief that European cultures are more highly evolved than that of Africa, etc) prominent in popular culture is an inaccurate and damaging presumption. Dr. Scott defines a number of her strategies developed and designed to challenge these common beliefs (including active communication and dialogue with the museum’s audience) and emphasizes the responsibility of museums to create spaces to informally interact with visitors to dissect preconceived notions of evolution and develop tools of critical analysis.
TEDx Talks. “Exhibiting the African Imaginary | Monique Scott | TEDxBrynMawrCollege.” YouTube video, 25:13. July 19, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7O8Yl6cg 24.
Dr. Monique Scott introduces and challenges common modern perspectives of Africa and the significance of these reductionist lenses in museum spaces. Dr. Scott criticizes the presumptions of Africa as an imaginary space or merely a tool for learning about the ‘primitive’ human past; she succinctly articulates the perception of Africa as the cradle of humanity, but Europe as ‘finishing school’. Dr Scott analyzes the role of anthropology and museums in perpetuating and arguably defining components of anti-black racism by drawing powerful links between eugenist images and current exhibitions. Informed by her experiences in multiple museums of natural history as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a researcher, educator, and/or advisor, Dr. Scott stipulates alternative representations of Africa in museums that emphasize respect and admiration of African culture and challenge damaging presumptions.
Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance, Jenny Davis (2018), University of Arizona Press
Jenny Davis’ Talking Indian explores the relationship between language and community identity by attending to contemporary language revitalization projects within the Chickasaw Nation. Davis is interested in moving the discourse regarding revitalization beyond numbers (that is, numbers of fluent speakers). Through discourse analysis and ethnography, she draws our attention to the semiotic processes of meaning making, both within and beyond Chickasaw territory. As a result, she asks us to rethink our theoretical approaches to diaspora, displacement, and development. For Davis, language revitalization should be primarily concerned with how people affiliate to the community through a relationship with language in various ways – as fluent Speakers, as affiliated speakers or as students within language classes, as users of apps and new media featuring Chickasaw language, and as attendees at Chickasaw events. Ultimately, these affiliations are also ways to claim and contest visions of the future in the face of rapid economic and demographic shifts, both within and beyond the community.
Belonging within the Chickasaw Nation, Davis shows us, is defined in terms of place (those who live within the boundaries of the Nation, in south-central Oklahoma), blood quantum (understood as biological and cultural inheritance), citizenship (dating to the 1893 Dawes Roll), and ethnolinguistic identity. Throughout the book, readers come to understand how members of the Chickasaw Nation create this sense of belonging not only through their relations with other community members, but also through engagement with global discourses related to entrepreneurialism and language use. Where linguistic expertise affords both cultural and economic capital, Davis’s mobilization of the concept of “affiliation” allows us to analyze the role of language in the production and reproduction of identity beyond fluency in important (and expansive) ways. Here, regional dialects, the use of Chickasaw language features in English words, and semiotic clues – like jackets, t-shirts, and business cards, themselves emerging from the broadened occupational opportunities that have accompanied the tribe’s recent economic growth – all create spaces for language affiliation, and therefore identity negotiation.
Because she takes a phenomenological rather than ontological approach to identity, Davis expands our understanding of language revitalization efforts by bringing together an analysis of the changing political and economic landscape of Indigenous life in Oklahoma, a broadened understanding of diaspora that brings attention not only to internal and external dispossessions from “homelands” but also to forms of what she calls “de-diasporization” – which include not only Chickasaw returning “home” and working toward the political and economic sovereignty of the Nation but also the ongoing links that are forged between individuals residing within tribal lands and those groups who have settled elsewhere – and an affective understanding of the semiotic processes relating language to identity, and to the generation of visions for future growth.
Anderson, J. E. (2009). Law, Knowledge, Culture: The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in Intellectual Property Law. Edward Elgar Pub. https://www.academia.edu/30182387/Law_Knowledge_Culture_The_Production_of_Indigenous_Knowledge_in_Intellectual_Property_Law
Anderson’s main focus centers around the development of protecting indigenous knowledge in Australia and how these recent constructions have impacted the “political, cultural, economic, [and] personal” spheres of indigenous interests. Her book discusses the extent to which these property laws were made available to Aboriginals with the improvement of Indigenous rights in 1967. To flesh out this idea, the emphasis is placed on the historical characterization of intellectual property (IP) laws in general to be a continuum in which the past informs the present and traditional ways are impossible to extinguish. This section peers into the intersections of indigenous knowledge and IP as two separate domains that merged to highlight the difficulties in practicing the new law since it encompasses the old view of IP. In turn, this perspective effectively exposes the incompatibilities of western laws with Indigenous epistemologies. In a more hopeful tone, Anderson spotlights IP laws empowering indigenous people the necessary agency in controlling and owning their interests in the realm of intellectual property discourse.
Anderson, Jane. “Negotiating Who” Owns” Penobscot Culture.” Anthropological Quarterly 91, no. 1 (2018): 267-305.
Jane Anderson problematizes the ways in which ethnographic collections in museums, archives, and libraries transform Indigenous culture into property through research and copyright law. The Penobscot Nation, whose cultural heritage is held in 30 institutions across the United States, are one of many tribes who do not have legal ownership or cultural control over their material culture or representations of said culture (photographs, manuscripts, etc.) amassed through colonial collecting practices. Anderson explains the strategies deployed by the Penobscot Nation to address the social and legal exclusions of ethnographic collections, such as the creation of the Penobscot Heritage Preservation Committee and the issuing of memorandums of understanding with the American Philosophical Society and the University of Maine. She explores how these methods are able to rupture the colonial logics of property as well as reanimate and repair disrupted relationality between people, place, and memory.
Anderson co-directs Local Contexts which is an initiative based website that assists Indigenous communities in recognizing and protecting their cultural heritage. The website bore out of the western conceptions of authorship and ownership of material being unable to accommodate the needs of indigenous communities. In effect, Anderson and her team created Traditional Knowledge licenses (TK labels) that sought to stitch the gap in expectations in regards to indigenous knowledge and intellectual material. TK labels work in conjunction with well-established copyright laws and function as an extra layer of protection against unauthorized reproductions of indigenous intellectual property. In recognizing most indigenous materials are out of context in the public domain, TK Labels empower indigenous communities to shift the dynamics of ownership to better share digital materials in an educational realm.
Modest, Wayne. “WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN MODERN: Museums, Collections, and Modernity in the Caribbean.” Museum Anthropology 35, no. 1 (2012): 85-96. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1379.2011.01124.x.
Modest explores the ways in which Western notions of “ancient” and “modern” have influenced the way the Caribbean is represented in museums. He focuses on museum history and collections pertaining to Jamaica, arguing that the country occupies an ambiguous place between ancient and modern, so that it is neither considered “ancient” or “modern” enough. Because of this, museums neglect to engage with New World blacks’ past and living cultures, placing more importance on the natural history of the area. This article raises important questions on how Western frameworks warp non-Western representations in museums, even to the extent of pushing non-Western cultures out of the field of anthropology.
De Koning, Anouk, and Wayne Modest. “Anxious Politics in Postcolonial Europe.” American Anthropologist 119, no. 3 (2017): 524-26. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.12916.
In the backdrop of rising nationalism and increasing rhetoric on inclusion and exclusion, de Koning and Modest argue that this moment for Europe is one of “anxious politics.” The term refers to a widespread struggle on how to deal with Europe’s colonial history, particularly the racialization of the Other. Their article explores the context in which anxious politics arose, touching on Brexit, Trump’s inauguration, and anti-immigrant sentiments. It describes how this context, alongside colonial history, is leading to modern measures that marginalize, regulate, and discipline the Other. Though the article doesn’t mention museums explicitly, its ideas echoes themes of reckoning with ingrained Western notions and frameworks in museums, which is present in Modest’s larger body of work. It also signals that these conversations of decolonizing museums are further complicated by current events on the global and national stage.
Modest, Wayne. “Museum Realisms – Introduction by Wayne Modest.” Youtube (2018). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x91qBnIdBgU.
Wayne Modest gives an introduction to a lecture by historian and anthropologist James Clifford, who investigates what realism means in museum contexts, especially when considering cross-cultural translations. Modest’s introduction brings to light conversations around ethnographic world culture collections research, especially as ethnographic museums today feel pressure to justify themselves because they are considered centers for “world arts and culture.” He talks about the establishment of the FEL fellowship, which aims to bring together scholars who work between museums and universities in order to stimulate research and collaboration in ethnographic research. The fellowship and Clifford’s lecture both question and investigate contemporary roles of ethnographic collections, emphasizing the intersection of museum and scholarly work.
Kakaliouras, A. M. (2017). NAGPRA and repatriation in the twenty-first century: Shifting the discourse from benefits to responsibilities. Bioarchaeology International, 1(3/4), 183-190.
In this article Kakaliouras is touching base within the communities of indigenouse peoples whose descendants’ remains have been lost because of the use of their remains in science. She discusses how the movements that began focusing on repatriation and reburial of descendants have been the real game changer to the field of anthropology, emphasizing the rights which the idnigenous people gain from laws like NAGPRA. However, she analyzes much further into the perspective of the descendants, detaching from the benefits side of it all, but the amount of responsibility which they carry, coming from a very tight knit community and culture. Kakaliouras is attempting to open the door for more scientists, and people, to realize what the indigenouse peoples have to go through, and how if we tend to understand them and comply with their wants, this could possibly open up doors to further studies in the future.
Kakaliouras, A. M. (2014). When remains are “lost”: Thoughts on collections, repatriation, and research in American physical anthropology. Curator: The Museum Journal, 57(2), 213-223.
In this article, Kakaliouras analyzes the ideas of repatriation of Native remains as a ‘loss’ to physical anthropology as a study and how moving past ideas of Native remains as collections may lead to more understanding relationships between museums and Native communities. She acknowledges that even with standardization of osteological data made possible by the The Standards published by the Field Museum as a result of NAGPRA, fear of loss still remains present in the field of physical anthropology. When examining how physical anthropologists fear ‘loss’ of physical remains, Kakaliouras describes the problem-oriented and repeatability approaches through which remains have been analyzed. With respect to this approach, she suggests that physical anthropology moves in directions which seek to tell the stories of the people, rather than analyzing the physicality of the remains, especially when the term ‘collection’ when referring to human remains reduces the remains to no more than bones in a museum. In doing so, Kakaliouras maintains that this can not only serve the lines of inquiry of physical anthropologists but also foster ancestral connections between descended peoples. The relationship between physical anthropologists and Native communities is connected to the broader conversation that NAGPRA fosters between museums and Native people.
Kakaliouras, A. M. (2012). “An Anthropology of Repatriation: Contemporary Physical Anthropological and Native American Ontologies of Practice,” Current Anthropology Vol 53, Number S5, pp. S210-S221. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/662331
Kakaliouras in this article analyzes the recurring policies circling the repatriation of ancestral human remains and biologically connected matter to the indigenous peoples and specifically Native North Americans. She discusses how even though legal, repatriation still instigates questions on whether or not these ancient remains are still paramount components to scientists and science as a whole itself. The United States fails, as she says, to modify the common practice of repatriation, requesting a transfiguration to the repetitive science, to allow the indigenous people to claim what is rightfully theirs and express their wants and needs. She will go on to touch on the idea of bringing together the different anthropological theories and making them fit into the perspectives of the indigenous people in terms of their cultures, opinions, and rights to deal with their ancestors’ remains.
Watkins, R. J. 2020. “An Alter(Ed)Native Perspective on Historical Bioarchaeology.” Historical Archaeology 54 (1): 17-33. doi:10.1007/s41636-019-00224-5. www.scopus.com.
This article analyzes the political work of Howard University’s Cobb Research Laboratory relative to emerging ideas in the field of bioarchaeology. Examining the disciplinary background of bioarchaeology, Watkins highlights how racialized thinking permeates scholarship so as to create vast structural inequalities within the discipline. Watkins illustrates the ways in which bioarchaeological literature perpetuates colonial ideas of race, specifically focusing on the unique link between science and racism, as well as the devaluation of intellectual contributions in the field. In relating this idea, Watkins borrows the quote “biological archaeology has failed when it comes to decolonizing our own practices. Works by minority scholars and our role in theory building are not reflected in the canon of the discipline” (Perez 2017).
Watkins, R.J. 2020. “Reclaiming the Ancestors: Indigenous and Black Perspectives on Repatriation, Human Rights, and Justice” https://vimeo.com/449844367
Watkins participates as a panelist in this webinar interrogating the impact of treating Native and African Americans as artifacts and how repatriation might address the legacies of colonial violence. She approaches the questions raised with an emphasis on destabilizing racist hierarchies in academia, as much of Watkins’ work examines how current epistemological practices enforce scientific authority as a white, heterosexual, cis phenomenon. As she writes in her faculty biography, “Scientific practices…structurally support the marginalization of scholarship produced by people who are not a part of….majorities….[which] in turn normalizes their place as subjects in the research process, versus knowledge producers.” Normalizing collaboration and accountability of museums with indigenous and African American communities through repatriation, and differentiating between data collection and hoarding to affirm scientific authority are key parts of ensuring human sovereignty in knowledge production.
Watkins, R.J. 2007. “Knowledge from the Margins: W. Montague Cobb’s Pioneering Research in Biocultural Anthropology” American anthropologist, 109(1), 186-196.
Watkins provides an overview of W. Montague Cobb’s contributions to the field of biocultural anthropology, highlighting the racial complexities of his work as an African American anthropologist. Through this discussion of Cobb’s progessive “biocultural perspectives,” Watkins recenters Cobb as a pioneer in the field, undoing the historical marginalization of his ideas and legacy. One of the first U.S. physical anthropologists dedicated to disrupting racial determinism, Cobb’s work on racial anatomy and child development emphasized the human body as a social and biological product. Additionally, Cobb’s commitment to using anthropology for political change and complete rejection of racial inferiority theories distinguishes his perspective from parallel work by his white colleagues (i.e. T. Wingate Todd and Franz Boas). Both scholar and activist, Watkins argues that Cobb’s work laid a foundation for future work in biocultural anthropology to drive social justice change.
Johnson-Cunningham, Stephanie. 2018. “A Case for More Black Space and Black Visuality .” Stephanie A. Johnson-Cunningham. August 16, 2018. https://stephanie-cunningham-yxx7.squarespace.com/blackvisuality/2018/8/6/a-case-for-more-black-space.
In this essay, Johnson-Cunningham points out that Black people in the United States face an overwhelming landscape of Whiteness that is often inequitable and unsafe, which inflicts physical and psychological harm on Black-Americans. Cunningham-Johnson calls for more significant efforts to create and support nurturing environments that facilitate a Black sense of belonging and security. She points to two examples of initiatives to carve out Black space and safety. One relates to the creation of symbols of Black pride, while the other centers around an app designed to highlight Black business and Black buying power. Both examples act as precedents of conscious, far-reaching actions meant to instill pride in the Black-American community.
Johnson-Cunningham, Stephanie. 2018. “Beyond Gallery Walls and Performance Halls: Five Essential Steps Museums and Other Cultural Institutions Must Take to Center People, Communities, and Cultivate Effective Societal Change.” Museums & Social Issues 13 (1): 2–7. https://doi.org/10.1080/15596893.2018.1480852
Johnson-Cunnigham argues that cultural entities, such as museums, have a duty to behave as conduits of actionable change in their societies and outlines five steps to achieve this goal. The first step is for cultural entities to recognize a history that relies on wealth inequality and tradition to create institutions that play roles in developing national values such as conquest, colonialism, and acculturation. The second step hinges on establishing a “racial justice framework” through introspection and addressing racial bias with diversity workshops. Forging bonds with established community organizations is the third step, ensuring that grassroots organizations have the opportunity to provide the grounding that museums need to create mutualistic relationships. The fourth step relies on starting a conversation about creative outlets accessible to impoverished youth. Johnson-Cunningham discusses the final step as a push for museums to become more vocal about their activist activity, especially when brands and celebrities are using their prominence to enact social dialogue.
Rice, Ryan, and Carla Taunton. “Buffalo Boy: Then and Now.” Fuse Magazine 32, no. 2 (March 2009): 18–25.
This essay reviews Adrian Stimson’s character of Buffalo Boy, a parody of Buffalo Bill that is “part drag performer, part shapeshifter.” Rice and Taunton write that he is a mixture of Rez smarts (Rez being a slang term for Indian Reservation) and street smarts, while showing Indigenous knowledge and queer theory. Stimson illustrates the stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, the iconic wild west cowboy, and princesses. He embraces these stereotypes with the intentions of salvaging Indigenous identities. His purposefully humorous and sarcastic performances include interaction from the audience members who are told to play the part of a white colonizer while Stimson plays an oppressed indigenous person. His storytelling is used as a means for embracing cultural status and making the audience involved with political activism. The character of Buffalo Boy brings out the absurdness of stereotypes and emphasizes anti-colonialism through a Western lens.
Rice, Ryan. “Presence and Absence: Indian Art in the 1990s .” Essay. In Définitions De La Culture Visuelle V: Mondialisation Et Postcolonialisme 9, 9:96–103. Montréal, QC, Canada: Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2002.
In the chapter “Presence and Absence: Indian Art in the 1990s,” Ryan Rice depicts the need to critically engage with questions of globalization and post-colonialism in regards to the longstanding framework of prejudice and exclusion of Indigenous art, specifically the obscured presence and contribution of Onkwehón:we, across shifting global art and cultural discourse. With the cultural, economic, and political conditions in Canada straining the relationship with the Onkwehón:we, major art institutions were dominated by colonial systems and Western categories of art and culture. By outlining the struggle for authenticity and modernity, Rice details Canada’s efforts to restore their relationship with the Onkwehón:we peoples, notably with the inclusion of visual and performing arts in the Commission. This demonstrated the collaborative efforts between Aboriginal peoples and institutions in developing an ethical framework to represent Aboriginal history and culture in public galleries. Rice argues that art curators must understand and incorporate the Onkwehón:we culture into exhibits by challenging the colonial ethics and values commonly implemented in this practice. As curators are prompted to reflect on the histories, experiences, and consequences, exhibits are urged to put aside Western parameters and accept a more multi-vocal expression of art in order to generate the necessary representation and inclusivity.
Rice, Ryan, Evan Pavka, Leah Sandals, Philip Monk, and Alice Rivard. “Trouble Me Venice: An Indigenous Curator’s View of the Biennale.” Canadian Art, 2017. https://canadianart.ca/reviews/ryan-rice-venice-biennale/.
As one of thirty-two Indigenous curators from Australia invited to the 57th Venice Biennale, Ryan Rice offered his critiques and reviews as summarized in the article. With such respect in the world of Indigenous art and ethnographic museums, Rice’s commentary was very important for the Biennale. The artwork and exhibitions presented were not just simple pieces of art, but were interactive films and presentations that illustrated racism, refugees, colonization, and indigenization. The exhibition by Lisa Reihana, called “In Pursuit of Venus [Infected]”, is a panoramic video that captures the voyages of Captain Cook and gives a truthful narrative to the still unraveling global truths of colonization.
Davis, Shelton H, and Alaka Wali. “Indigenous Land Tenure and Tropical Forest Management in Latin America.” AMBIO, vol. 23, no. 8, Dec. 1994, p. 484.
Davis and Wali connect climate issues with indigenous rights by introducing the idea that indigenous peoples should act as resource managers for tropical rainforest ecosystems threatened by climate change.. Using various data models, they conclude that in order for indigineous peoples to play a beneficial role in the upkeep of tropical ecosystems, those peoples need to be legally granted more control over their land, as well as a reconsidered relationship with government, the scientific community, and environmental institutions. Davis and Wali, each well-established anthropologists and advocates for indigenous rights in their own regard, present a logical argument pushing for the necessity of repatriation using well-arranged data comparison and historical evidence.
Wali, Alaka. “The Arc of Justice: Indigenous Activism and Anthropological Intersections.” Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America, vol. 9, no. 2, 2011.
In this article, Wali discusses the evolution of indigenous activism in South America from its beginnings, marked by an impressive influence despite lack of resources, to its current operations and challenges in the modern day. Even though indigenous activist efforts had begun to expand beyond defense of land and human rights, the advancements made failed to gain institutional support due to an accelerated demand to exploit the Amazon’s resources from large corporations. Contemporary indigenous activist groups continue to defend human and land rights, despite further progression made from this original focus prior to the turn of the millennium.Wali, a knowledgeable and experienced figure in the Native Anthropology, presents an alternative strategy to furthering initiatives in South American indigenous activism, but recognizes that the strategy is still emerging and has not yet caused any major outcomes. She nonetheless provides ample historical evidence and data to support her ideas on how indigenous activist efforts may provide more effective and beneficial change in the future, such as legislative action and a turn from capitalist focus, in order to achieve repatriation.
Weiss, Joseph, Alaka Wali, and Virginia R. Dominguez. “Anthropologists and Museums: An Interview with Joseph Weiss.” American Anthropologist 120, no. 4 (2018): 808-812.
Anthropologists Alaka Wali and Virginia R. Dominguez interview Jonathan Weiss about museums from his perspective as a curator and anthropologist. Wali and Dominguez ask Weiss several questions about the ideal visitor experience, how well museums are depicting colonialism and imperialism, as well as the current and future collaborative works that museums are doing to make exhibits and museums more accessible for Indigenous communities. Weiss emphasizes the importance of museums having critical, unsettling exhibitions coupled with an institutional commitment to and consultation with Indigenous Nations.
Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now. 2014. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsnLPcXMHBKOmxacSys8nXjzAcDJ8k0zM
This video series, co-produced by Lucy Fowler-Williams and Hopi journalist, Patty Talahongva, consists of five eight-minute videos that capture the main themes from a project centered on modern Native American voices. They spent fourteen months conducting twenty-five first person interviews in four locations with Native American activists, scholars, youth, and artists in their communities. The topics covered in the videos include the ongoing fight for sovereignty, the heart of their culture, Native American artists in their own words, creating a new consciousness in America, and the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey. This was created to accompany the Penn Museum exhibition that many of Fowler-Williams publications discuss and it demonstrates one way in which Indigenous voices can be incorporated into modern museums.
Williams, Lucy Fowler, Stacey O. Espenlaub, and Janet Monge. 2016. “Finding Their Way Home: Twenty-Five Years of NAGPRA at the Penn Museum.” Expedition. 58, no. 1 (2016): 28. Philadelphia: University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania.
This magazine article follows one journey of Native American remains back to their homeland, after decades of them being kept in the Penn Museum. The writers examine the relationship between NAGPRA and decolonization, and through displaying the stories of the two tribal leaders picking up the remains of their ancestors, they show the necessary peace that repatriation can give to the affected populations. The University of Pennsylvania’s own connection to NAGPRA is recognized, and details are given about the amount and type of materials Penn has returned. The article gives a brief introduction to NAGPRA, highlights its issues, the struggles museums face when attempting to follow its guidelines, and the thought process in approaching the loopholes in the legislation. While recognizing what the Penn Museum has done in efforts to reconcile with Native peoples and repatriate objects via NAGPRA, this piece also holds the museum accountable for their past and commits them to follow through with repatriation, even in times when legally NAGPRA won’t require it.
Williams, Lucy Fowler and Robert Starbard. 2020. “Woosh.Jee.Een, Pulling Together.” In Unsettling Native Art Histories on the Northwest Coast, edited by Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse and Aldona Jonaitis, 218-239: The University of Washington Press.
In this book chapter, Fowler Williams discusses how Louis Shotridge came to be the first Native American curator at the Penn museum, the controversy of his actions among the Tlingit tribe, and recent repatriation of parts of the collection. The writing shares the story of the return of these belongings and their cultural significance. She highlights the mutual benefits of the NAGPRA consultation for the Hoonah community members and the Penn Museum and how collections housed in museums are not passive objects but often living beings important to communities today. Ultimately, she shows how the repatriation process shaped a new relationship between Penn and the Tlingit people, illustrating the collaborative nature of repatriation.
Masondo, Ingrid. 2019. Unstable Forms: Photography, Race, and the Identity Document in South Africa. “Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History,” Ch. 3. Ohio University Press.
Masondo discusses the historical connection between the practice of personal identification and racial categories, identifies critical issues with regards to the visual classification of race, and delineates the manner through which the South African identity document during apartheid contributed to further subjugation of apartheid subjects, focusing on the relevance of the ID photograph. Masondo summarizes the history of the South African ID, stemming from the Population Registration Act of 1950; following this act, racial categories formed indelible identifying characteristics on the identification card— another government entrenchment of race division, all based on appearance— and “Africans” were forced by law to carry such a card at all times, a form of racial branding. Masondo highlights the flawed focus on visual evidence for race classification, providing evidence of non-uniform, illegible, and almost completely color-based photographs; for example, camera tricks purposefully made darker-skinned individuals look even darker. She ultimately describes and laments the lack of neutrality and objectivity in photography and visual technology, and the lack of adequate language to identify beyond gender and racial categories, evidencing just how deeply rooted these harmful ideologies lie.
Lewis, Desiree. 2005. Against the Grain: Black Women and Sexuality. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, Vol. 19, No. 11 (24). Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Agenda Feminist Media.
Two black South African women photographers, Ingrid Masondo and Zanele Muholi, have contributed greatly to the global representation of black women and sexuality. Desiree Lewis, a Western Cape graduate student, asserts that Masondo and Muholi’s photography demonstrates the extensive reach and agency black women artists have to produce a platform that encourages open public discussion about body politics, sexuality, and personal and social freedom. They do this through dismantling the ever-present images and conventions inspired by racist and colonial ideals, nationalist representation, and pornographic images, instead showcasing black bodies and sexuality in light of their independence, choice, and agency. They are effective in both rejecting racism in the scientific world and in mass media through portraying a more honest and reverent image, and also in addressing the regretful suppression of dialogue upon the subject of bodies and sexuality within communities of black women themselves.
Exhibition curated by Masondo, Ingrid. Not the Usual Suspects. 5 October 2018 to 21 April 2019. Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
The Market Photo Workshop, founded in 1989, is the first South African institution to offer aspiring black South African photographers training and access to essential photographic equipment during apartheid, still providing photography education and visual literacy training today. Alumna Ingrid Masondo, introduced to photography at the MPW in 2001, curates the South African National Gallery’s 30th-year anniversary tribute to the institution. Entitled Not the Usual Suspects, artists confront issues of access, visibility, and the shifting role of photography through more than 100 artworks. Despite MPW having produced some of the most influential photographers on the continent, Masondo chooses instead to specifically highlight the workshop’s lesser-known graduates, especially women-queer practitioners. She includes testimonies and images from trainers, project managers, and mentors linked to MPW over the years, a tribute to the graduates and the open philosophy that the organization represents.
Bruchac, Margaret M., and Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel. Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists. TUCSON: University of Arizona Press, 2018. Accessed December 4, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2050vr4.
In Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists, Margaret Bruchac applies kinship study to the history of US anthropology, tracing the relationships between anthropologists and their indigenous counterparts. Here, inverting the racialized, historical use of “savage” terminology, anthropologists become the “uncouth” and “uncivilized”: interlopers who stumble and bumble through cultural interactions and cannot see beyond their own career-building and object-collecting aspirations. Bruchac’s study consists of five case studies, each focusing on a particular relationship between an anthropologist and the Indigenous intellectuals with whom they worked, as well as an initial chapter on the social milieu of anthropology at the turn of the twentieth century and a more theoretically-oriented conclusion. Bruchac’s case studies offered by Savage Kin can serve as a model for historians of anthropology. As we uncover anthropology’s archives, Bruchac reminds us of the need to trace our kin: for when we do, we see clearly that the production of ethnographic knowledge is rooted in the historical coalescence of cross-cultural relationships. The work Bruchac is doing can be used as a guide for all anthropologists in researching the way colonialism has impacted
Bruchac, Margaret. “Wampum Research: Notes from the Trail – 2014-2015.” Penn Museum, 2015.https://www.penn.museum/blog/museum/wampum-research-notes-from-the-trail-june-2015
In May of 2014, Dr. Margaret Bruchac and her two research assistants set out to follow the trail of the University of Pennsylvania’s anthropologist Frank G Speck. They analyze an ambitious list of wampum beads in the school’s collection. The main goal is to chart the distribution of wampum belts, and they discovered much more. Such as, the vast misrepresentation of their tribal meanings. A direct result of separating these items from their people is the misrepresentations of wampum. Through specific research and interviews with scholars, and native American wampum keepers, they are able to recover insight into wampum semiotics and display. The observation reveals clear visual distinctions among different sizes and sources of shell beads, anomalous beads, various creating materials, treatments of various warp and weft. As well as, evidence of the re-use of other beads and leather warps in newer belts. The end goal for this discovery is to locate and analyze the 400 extant wampum belts in other collections to recover as much data as possible, restore their history, and reconnect them with their respective tribal nations. By locating and identifying the deeper meanings behind the wampum beads Bruchac allows the respective tribes to collect their items and have their symbols of their own history.
Bruchac, Margaret. “Broken Chains of Custody: Possessing, Dispossessing, and Repossessing Lost Wampum Belts MARGARET M. BRUCHAC.” American Philosophical Society, 2018. https://www.amphilsoc.org/sites/default/files/2018-08/attachments/Bruchac.pdf.
Margaret Bruchac tracked the history of two native american wampum belts. She found that they were sold at an antiques auction. The consortium of six Nations Iroquois Chiefs, the haudenosaunee standing committee on burial rules and regulations (hsc), noticed the belts and recognized that they were tribal property. They were selling between $15,000 and $30,000. The belt had traveled across several borders as part of private collections and museums for decades before its arrival at the auction. Bruchac’s studies with Native American culture told her that wampum belts might be constructed and dedicated to specific purposes, but belts could also be repurposed, dismantled, repaired, and reconstructed as needed. Anthropological observers suggested that these wampum losses were indicative of cultural assimilation, factionalism, and the supposed privatization of regalia. During the salvage era, Indigenous title to cultural patrimony was initially obscured by the physical removals of many sacred and patri- monial objects to museums. By studying the history of these belts and adding them to the others that she researched and identified bead by bead she was able to see that conceptual relocations (from sacred to secular, patrimonial to private, tribal heritage to museum heritage, etc.) legitimized further removals.When these wampum belts resurfaced, they created, in effect, a navigable path that diverse parties followed to speak with one another, despite their differences. In the end, Bruchac’s recovery of these wampum belts did not come about through litigation or legislation; it works through a single act of good faith, after years of diplomacy. Repatriation research and consultation, after all, is very much like the stages in a condolence ceremony, where healthy relations can only come about after the aggrieved parties acknowledge the damage done, and create a plan to fix it.
Articles of Interest
Buijs, Cunera. “Shared Inuit Culture: European Museums and Arctic Communities.” Études/Inuit/Studies 42, no. 1 (2018): 37-60. Accessed November 2, 2020. doi:10.2307/26775760.
In this article, author Cunera Buijs, an anthropologist, specialized in museum and visual anthropology describes and inspects multiple collaborative exhibitions, projects, and repatriation claims initiated in Europe to illustrate the complex relationship between museums and Indigenous Arctic communities and the disputed cultural heritage of museum collections. She discusses how through collaboration museums have become “contact zones” as issues of decolonization have become a central issue to museums. She considers the problems of unequal power dynamics, property/ownership, and the extent to which Indigenous communities are deciding questions of ownership for themselves in these projects. This article analyses the complexities of these source community projects, including their experimental, inspirational, and culture-building aspects.
Clare, Rod. “Black Lives Matter The Black Lives Matter Movement in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.” Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies 6 (2016): 122-125.
In this article, Clare discusses that implicit in the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) and its attendant demands is the long-standing issue of black mobility. This mobility is linked to placing racial conflict and historical events in context, so fundamental change and progress can be made. Clare introduces how Lonnie Bunch, NMAAHC’s director, wants to integrate BLM to the Smithsonian. Some of the items Bunch prioritizes for collection include banners, posters, gas masks, and a 4’ by 7’ panel of wood used to protect stores during the disturbances, which has printed on it “hands up”. The work presented in this text illustrates efforts to decolonize museums nationally, by including African-American art. Including diverse artists reduces the hegemony of one artistic or one racial presence.
Hicks, Dan. “Will Europe’s museums rise to the challenge of decolonisation?” The Guardian, This is Europe Museums, 7 Mar. 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2020/mar/07/europe-museums-decolonisation-africa-empire
In this article Hicks talks about how the colonial mindset of European anthropology museums is being questioned and rethought. He compares European anthropology museums to that of African museums and institutions and explains how African museums are reimagining museums not as an endpoint but as an ongoing, living process. He calls for reimagining museums as sites of conscience, unique public places of understanding, remembering and addressing the legacies of empire and enduring cultural infrastructure of “race science.”
Kean, Sam. “Historians expose early scientists’ debt to the slave trade,” Science, April 4, 2019, https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/04/historians-expose-early-scientists-debt-slave-trade.
In this article, Sam Kean of Science Magazine documents the relationship between science and slavery. He frames the development of early scientific studies through the lens of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the co-constitution of both domains through the 16th to 19th centuries. Keane explains that the blossoming study of drugs and medicine helped to create more robust colonies, allowing slave traders to benefit from these safer and healthier settlements. In this way, the continuation of slavery relied on scientific discoveries. Likewise, scientists also benefitted from the slave trade in that many European naturalists became involved in order to gain access to the Americas and Africa. This “compromise” provided ways for to collect specimens in the Americas and Africa at a great expense. Kean then examines the troubled past of curiosity cabinets in relation to slavery and the neglect to recognize this relationship. Finally, the article concludes with a survey of museums’ struggle to recognize their debt to slavery. He asserts that although museums and institutions, such as Yale, Georgetown, and Brown, have acknowledged that slavery plays a role in their history, the dependence of slavery and science needs to be fully analyzed and no longer silenced.
Prior, Charles. “Beyond Settler Colonialism.” Journal of Early American History 9, no. 2-3 (2019): 93–117. https://doi.org/10.1163/18770703-00902013.
In this unique analysis, Dr. Prior addresses the popularization of the term “Settler Colonialism” and challenges its use in descriptions of the early United States. By utilizing critical perspectives on sovereignty and colonial history, Dr. Prior asserts that violent conquest was not prominent under the British decree and influence, and that claiming so invalidates the significance of Indigenous presence in the process towards settler independence. He emphasizes the necessity of both approaching the complexities of early interaction without generalizations and emphasising the significant role of Native Americans in this history.
Tugend, Alina. “Displaying, not Hiding, the Reality of Slave Labor in Art.” The New York Times. October 25, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/23/arts/design/museums-slave-labor-displays.html (accessed November 28, 2020).
Journalist Alina Tugend describes museums’ attempts to rework and revise their collections in order to acknowledge the role of slavery in art production and representation. She implies how a focus on what has been previously excluded and obscured allows museums to adopt a more holistic and inclusive approach to history. Several examples are presented on such attempts, the one carried out by the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts and the one carried out by the Chrysler Museum in Virginia being the two most prominent. The former involved hanging labels on several portraits to identify slave traders or owners. The latter involved adding a component to one of the museum’s exhibitions in order to pay homage to the enslaved craftsmen that were involved in building the architectural endeavors on display. These attempts represent a successful sign of change, however, more work needs to be done to fully embrace our troubled past and create a long lasting legacy that avoids its repetition.
Fforde, Cressida, C. Timothy McKeown, and Honor Keeler. The Routledge Companion to Indigenous Repatriation: Return, Reconcile, Renew. London: Routledge Companions, 2020.
This book brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous repatriation practitioners to provide readers an international overview of the removal and return of ancestral remains. Cressida Fforde was Deputy Director of Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University. C. Timothy McKeown, for 18 years, was a federal official responsible for drafting regulations implementing NAGPRA. Honor Keeler is currently a member of the NAGPRA review committee and was in charge of coordinating repatriation of Wesleyan University collections to Native nations. The co-authors reflects on their combined 40 years of international repatriation, its meaning, impact, and effect, which is pertinent to our discussion of the pathways to repatriation.
Home is a Foreign Place, The Met, New York, NY, Metmuseum.org. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2019/home-is-a-foreign-place.Home is a Foreign Place was an exhibition at The Met that ran from April 9th, 2019 to March 12th, 2020, and attempted to decolonize the definition of modern art. The exhibition featured pieces of modern and contemporary art from Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, as well as pieces by American artists. Many of the pieces featured portray scenes that subvert colonial narratives about non-Western countries and complicate Western portrayals of non-Western cultures.
Films and Videos
Arts, CBC. (2017, December 22) Keep Calm and Decolonize: Buffy Sainte-Marie’s call for Canada to ‘imagine new ways forward’. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_rKHL60YuA&feature=emb_title
In this advertisement, musician Buffy Saint-Marie describes the meaning behind the phrase “Stay Calm and Decolonize” which she coined in 2016. She explains how she believes the country can find a path forward that involves restructuring and decolonizing society. She goes on to introduce five artists who have each made a short film for a series titled after the quote. The filmmakers explore their own relationships to colonization and the decolonization process.
Jones, Philip. “Anthropology, Colonialism, and the Exploration of Indigenous Australia.” YouTube. Peabody Museum, November 22, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxeX7QGIGhc.
In this lecture uploaded by the Peabody Museum, Philip Jones, Senior Curator in Anthropology at the South Australian Museum, and Affiliate Lecturer, Department of History, University of Adelaide expresses his realization that research should not be open-ended and should result in clear contribution to knowledge and ideally that this contribution should be accessible and useful to descendants community. He discusses the Harvard University 1938-1939 expedition to Australia with the goal of gaining an understanding of the way colonization had impacted indigenous communities physiology, and informing government policy to move from segregation to assimilation. He explains how 6,000 individual records and samples taken from Indigenous people on missions and settlements has recently been used to make cases for land claims and spawned community-based research projects.
Kasmani, Shaheen. “How Can We Decolonize Museums” Vimeo. Museum of London, June 29, 2018. https://vimeo.com/277609160.
In this presentation, Kasmani talks about how Birmingham museums collaborated with cultural activists to challenge museums to create an environment that brought new perspectives and voices to an otherwise “white” space. She explains the upfront challenge of white supremacy, decenters the Eurocentric view, and values the narrative of what has been made “Other”. She states this new perspective dismantles systems of thought that place the white man as the standard.
Other Cinemas. “The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised.” Vimeo. November 01, 2020. https://vimeo.com/302162709.
This is a video essay, that’s narration is from the essay “The Museum Will Not Be Decolonized”. The essay discusses Kassim’s experience working on an exhibition that attempted to decolonise the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s collections, and the complicated challenges that came with this endeavor. The visuals include archival footage that deals with critical race theory and explores the history of racism in Britain, mainly during the apartheid era. The combination of this narration and the visuals allows the video to explore how efforts to “decolonize” can do more harm than good, and help to erase the history of colonization.
The People’s Forum NYC. “The New Intellectuals: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, and Capitalism.” YouTube video, 30:09. June 23, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75BujYWmTaU.
This interview with Dr. Gerald Horne on his book The Dawning of the Apocalypse: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, and Capitalism in the Long Sixteenth Century addresses the emergence of white supremacy and its inextricable linkage with settler colonialism, imperialism, and slavery. Dr. Horne provides an outline situating white supremacy as evolving from Pan-Europeanism in the age of British colonialism. The interviewer, Jordan T Camp, highlights Dr. Horne’s definition of white supremacy as a system of class collaboration against enslaved Africans. Prominently, Dr. Horne analyzes the significant ramifications of transatlantic slave trade today; he draw connection between present class struggle and pornography of violence protested today to the history of slavery, and advises that challenging modern racial inequalities requires the acknowledgement of these historical foundations.
Davies, Dave. “The History Of American Imperialism, From Bloody Conquest To Bird Poop”. NPR Fresh Air. Podcast audio, February 18, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/02/14/694728435/the-story-of-american-imperialism.
Dave Davies invites historian Dr. Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, to this episode of NPR’s Fresh Air. They weigh in on topics such as the Spanish American War (1898), contextualized by the United State’s desire for “more frontier,” the thirst for American western expansion in the 19th century. As a result of this war, a chain of conquests was born. The Philippines, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Cuba were included in this splurge. In particular, the effects of the imperialization of the Philippines and the humanitarian crisis that followed are dissected. Furthermore, Immerwahr tells the story of Dr. Cornelius Rhodes, a racist physician who wanted to exterminate Puerto Ricans and confessed to experimenting and killing his patients while in Puerto Rico. Through this example, Dr. Immerwahr communicates the United States’ evolving identity as a republic and what constitutes an American citizen. He unites how the development of imperialism guided misconceptions, such as the racist ideals of Dr. Rhoades, to be accepted as the truth.
Hochschild, Adam. “The Fight to Decolonize the Museum.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 15 Dec. 2019, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/01/when-museums-have-ugly-pasts/603133
This is an article by The Atlantic but also includes a Soundcloud Podcast and it speaks on the internal fight in decolonizing the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium. The story is told from the perspective of a museum visitor but refers to specific exhibitions in the museum and makes connections to other museums abroad. The podcast also goes through direct actions the museum took to decolonize their timeline, and issues they encountered. Finally it ends with the description of a congolese tribute dedicated to seven Africans who died in the 1897 fair and denied proper burial. In the end, it shows how the museum was able to honor those colonized by telling their story alongside the colonizers which is often the only story told.
Trembath, Jodie-Lee and Theobald, Simon. Interview with Sana Ashraf and Bruma Rios-Mendoza. The Familiar Strange. Podcast audio. October 1, 2018. https://thefamiliarstrange.com/2018/10/01/ep-23-decolonizing-anthropology/
Trembath and Theobald from the Australian podcast series, The Familiar Strange, interview anthropologists Sana Ashraf and Bruma Rios-Mendoza about what decolonizing means, how it pertains to anthropology, and why it is so important. Ashraf defines decolonization as the ongoing process of recognizing privilege in every aspect of day-to-day life. Ashraf and Rios-Mendoza explain that decolonization is important because the only way to make change is for people in positions of power to step outside of their comfort zones and to prioritize the comfort of marginalized groups. Their ideas connect to discussions of cultural relativism. They urge anthropologists to acknowledge their own privilege and avoid imposing a western perspective on non-western material culture.
“My Racial Journey: Using Hateful Items as Teaching Tools,” YouTube video, 13:49, posted by “TEDxUniversityofRochester,” May 23, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbMKKqRBbLI
In his TED talk, Dr. David Pilgrim explains his journey in founding the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The Jim Crow museum uses racist artifacts (everyday objects such as children’s books, cookie jars, etc.) to tell the story of America’s racist history. Dr. Pilgrim discusses the importance of displaying objects that reveal the horrors of our past, as they will incite people in the present to promote social change. Dr. Pilgrim’s TED talk not only encourages the viewer to think about museum reform, but to think about how museums could be shaped in the future. The Jim Crow Museum challenges other museums to reconsider what they believe to be art and inspires them to develop new, creative ways to display histories of racism, colonialism, and indigenous dispossession for the public eye.
Staff, NPR/TED. “Titus Kaphar: How Can We Address Centuries of Racism In Art?” NPR, NPR, 10 Nov. 2017. www.npr.org/2017/11/10/562836477/titus-kaphar-how-can-we-address-centuries-of-racism-in-art.
This article speaks on Titus Kaphar’s Art Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Titus Kaphar recreates well known colonial paintings to include a new perspective of race and inclusion which is historically left out. Kaphar alters previous paintings by shredding, reinterpreting, or painting over them to portray a new meaning. In the latter part of his TedTalk he explains that the white paint he uses to paint over white people is not meant to erase them or their history but to highlight the historical overlook of people of color, and that the paint is chemically altered to fade over time.
Atalay, Sonya and Shannon, Jennifer. “Completing the Journey: A Graphic Narrative about NAGPRA and Repatriation”. American Anthropologist Journal of the American Anthropological Association. Accessed November 13, 2020. http://www.americananthropologist.org/ethno-graphic-atalay-and-shannon/.
This graphic novel explains in plain terms what NAGPRA is, why it was enacted, and how what are legally termed “culturally unidentifiable individuals” and “associated funerary objects” are treated under the law. The graphic novel explains that originally, the procedure to repatriate “culturally unidentifiable” individuals was not included in the law. To do so, a museum had to consult with many tribes and determine an appropriate course of action, then bring the case for review before the National NAGPRA Review Committee. Atalay and Shannon show that repatriation facilitates healing and well-being, for both Native communities and for the museum professionals and archaeologists involved in handling these ancestors. NAGPRA Comics highlights that repatriation builds relationships and makes further research collaborations possible, often resulting in new, exciting, and cutting-edge projects. This effort should be modeled by other museums and organizations to spread the message of repatriation activism.
United Nations. (2007) What the United Nations can do to assist the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Retrieved From: https://www.un.org/zh/events/decolonization50/pdf/What%20the%20UN%20can%20do.pdf
This brochure was created by the United Nations’ Department of Public Information and the Decolonization Unit in 2007. The brochure details what UN departments and resources are available to the Non-Self-Governing Territories to help them determine their own statehood and improve their infrastructures. The resources include educational and environmental programs, health programs, region specific commissions, and cultural organizations.