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This panel explores how museums in different contexts respond to the (post)colonial condition. In what ways are museums colonial institutions, how do they represent colonialism, and what does it mean, practically, theoretically, to decolonize them?
The question of the colonial has recently exploded across diverse museums at a time when they attempt to reposition themselves as fora for public debate and emancipatory social tools. Different museums are increasingly trying to address their colonial legacy and to engage the political problems that go with curating colonial collections. Such attempts at decolonizing museums are part of a larger campaign to decolonize Europe and to counter exclusionary modes of conceiving European identities. Often under second generation activists and social movements' pressure, curators have begun to act upon the multiple forms of structural, racialized violence that sustain the museum institution. Propelled by social media, these movements—from Decolonize this Place in the USA to Museum Detox in the UK and Decolonize the Museum in the Netherlands—extend beyond national borders and yet respond to specific (post)colonial formations embedded in distinctive national landscapes and imperial histories.
This panel explores how museums in different contexts respond to the (post)colonial condition. In what ways are museums colonial institutions, how do they represent colonialism, and what does it mean, practically, theoretically, to decolonize them? More specifically: What is the exact content of the 'colonial' in decolonizing collections? What do museums' narratives of colonialism look like and why? How are broader postcolonial issues negotiated in and through museums? How do museums attempt to be spaces for recognition and (re)conciliation? What is a postcolonial museum vis-à-vis a decolonial one? How to counter the risk of decolonizing moves being recuperated by neoliberal logics?