Author:Ferdinand de Jong (University of East Anglia)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the Jola Museum, a very small museum in South Senegal. The museum is curated by one person and in many respects is a one-person enterprise, attracting no more than ten visitors per week. But even so, the Jola Museum operates as an important lens for issues of representation.
Paper long abstract:
The Jola Museum consists of a collection of ethnographic objects. Most of these objects are rare and authentic, and they may be considered representative of a particular way of life. Through this collection an 'authentic' way of life is reconstructed which, while on display to foreign tourists, can be photographed. Some of the shrines on display, however, were never meant to be seen by non-initiates. The museum displays some simulacra of shrines, which it turns into objects of photographic representation. Hence, the exhibition of this collection raises issues about secrecy and revelation deeply embedded in the poetics and politics of the wider community.