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Scrap the museum, decolonise anthropology? Redoing the anthropology-museum nexus 
Jonas Tinius (Saarland University (ERC Minor Universality))
Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Margareta von Oswald (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Francisco Martínez (Tampere University)
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Tuesday 23 July, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Anthropology and its museums have long been seen as carriers of imperial legacies, and there have been many calls for their undoing. Yet, dealing with their difficult pasts has generated as much critique as collaboration. This roundtable addresses this paradox and asks what else might be done.

Long Abstract:

The call to undo anthropology as a discipline is bound together with critiques of modern museums and ethnographic collections that likewise call for their decolonisation or even scrapping. Attempts to address museums’ difficult heritage has, however, been the impetus for the development of reparative methods and forms of generative knowledge production. Provenance research, for instance, has become more widespread, generating new knowledge about collections and in some cases led to returns. Collections have also been the focus for collaborative curatorial work, assembling various forms of expertise, especially that of those who earlier made and lived with the objects, but also that of committed others, such as artists, collectors, and researchers. Such collaboration has enabled new understandings and perspectives, including indigenous, as well as necessary conceptual and methodological innovation; and in some cases, it has contributed to broader and more durable change to both institutions and relationships.

Museums and collections are, then, being reassembled as sites and catalysts for reparative forms of research, and platforms for the redoing of difference, heritage, and ways of knowing. This context is the backdrop to the questions addressed by this roundtable: To what extent has the work of undoing in and of museums led to constructive reassembling? What terms, concepts and methods have been produced? How far have new knowledge and ways of knowing, and wider institutional and relational change, been enabled? What were the stumbling blocks and limits? And how far can the museum act as a method for wider transformation of anthropology itself?

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Session 1 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -