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Doing provenance research otherwise. From undoing colonial epistemologies to pluralising knowledge with museum collections 
Julia Binter (University of Bonn)
Jordi Tomàs (University of Barcelona GECID)
Alba Valenciano-Mañé (Universidad Autónoma de MadridUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
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Duane Jethro (University of Cape Town)
Thursday 18 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel aims to reconfigure provenance research beyond Western academic epistemologies and to diversify the production of knowledge on and with collections from colonial contexts. It invites novel and plural approaches seeking to undo the colonial entanglements of museum collections.

Long Abstract:

Recent calls for provenance research on cultural goods from colonial contexts frame the problematic within Eurocentric notions of ownership, perpetrator/victim discourses and chronological temporalities. These approaches predominantly rely on the critical reading of written colonial archives. They tend to overlook alternative forms of knowledge formation about the past, such as embodied, performative and materialised knowledge, temporalities of ancestral immanence or cyclical time and more-than-human ontologies (cf. Sarr 2016, Escobar 2020, Vergès 2023). This panel seeks to address this deficiency by advocating for the transformation of provenance research through the diversification of knowledge creation within museum collections. Social and cultural anthropology is particularly apt in supporting this process due to its long history of critical self-reflection, openness to alternative epistemologies and ontologies and its methodologies of transcultural translation. Anthropologically inspired provenance research seeks to undo the colonial legacies of appropriation, racialisation and, at times, dehumanisation of anthropologies of the past. It also seeks to develop new ways in which the critical reading of colonial archives is productively supplemented by oral histories and other forms of embodied, performative and materialised knowledge. Such an approach can help to diversify our notion of the past and reframe restitution as no longer being solely based on Eurocentric forms of ownership, but on the cultural and historical significance of museum objects/subjects. This panel welcomes papers that contemplate the constraints inherent in archive-based provenance research and suggest novel and plural approaches to critically examine the colonial complexities within museum collections while envisioning their potential futures.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -