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Accepted Paper:

Relations of Respect: Indigenous Skills Repatriation in the “Contact Zone”  
Maureen Matthews (University of Manitoba) Roger Roulette (Aboriginal Languages of MB)

Paper short abstract:

Clifford suggests that museums as “contact zones” might someday resemble libraries “circulating art and culture beyond their walls” (1997:212). This paper explores the Anishinaabe idea that museum objects as “non-human persons” can play an active role in circulating cultural knowledge.

Paper long abstract:

When James Clifford explored the idea of the museum as a “contact zone” he suggested that in a decolonized future, some museums would come to resemble “a depository and lending library, circulating art and culture beyond their walls” (Clifford 1997:212). In an article about Indigenous -controlled heritage institutions, he remarked on the vitality of relationships between their objects and their community created by these flexible, local institutions (ibid 107-147). In an essay about Alaskan museums he observed that even the most severe critics “recognize the potential for alliances when they are based on shared resources, repositioned indigenous and academic authorities and relations of genuine respect.” (Clifford 2004). This paper looks at the role of a provincial museum with a large and politically active indigenous arts community in creating new “relations of respect” by encouraging skills and knowledge repatriation through Indigenous scholar residencies and enhanced community access to collections. This paper employs an ”ontological turn” - accepting and acting upon the Anishinaabe idea that museum objects as “non-human persons” will, given the chance, form new ceremonial and educational relationships with the contemporary Indigenous arts community. Every museum has its historical and organizational limitations and every museum community offers its own unique possibilities but there is something to be learned from trusting the relational possibilities of museum collections and the enthusiasm and creativity of Indigenous artists.

Panel Speak09b
Sensible museums: responsibilities of knowledge creation and narrative construction in museums II
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -