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Accepted Paper:

Decolonising the African Collections and Displays at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 2019-2021  
Nuno Porto (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation focuses in the UBC project to decolonize its African collections while training students on a museum research experience. In the context of a university located in "unceded land" of the Musqueam first nation I explore the socially situated nature of the notion of decolonization.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation focuses on work in progress within the UBC funded project to decolonize its African collections while training undergraduate students on a museum hands-on research experience. I will follow an ethnographic account of the implementation of the project highlighting specific situations that point to the sense that the notion of decolonization - even if restricted to museum work - does not cover a unified field of practice. In views of this, the project - that covers four academic terms and allows recruiting eight students per term - is itself engaged in incorporating practices locally perceived as decolonial gestures, such as a bottom-up, participatory, management 'structure', a permanent, by consensus, decision making process, and deliberate and systematic communication of the working process with peers and the broader academic community.

I begin by exploring the matter of fact-ness that Canada, and, for that matter, UBC, located in "unceded land" of the Musqueam first nation, does not see itself as an imperial nation. Its usual formulation of the notion of 'decolonization' is consistently articulated in tandem with the notion of 'reconciliation', an ongoing political process that does not include Africa, nor Canadians of African descent, as it addresses internal colonial histories regarding Canadian First Nations.

I then explore instances in which the project is fertilized by disparate notions of decolonization formulated by students while re-describing the collections and criticizing the museum catalogue strictures, and how, at a second level, these provide perspective into our current colonial situation both at the university and at the city of Vancouver.

Panel P179
Curating the (post)colonial in Europe and beyond
  Session 1 Wednesday 22 July, 2020, -