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Accepted Paper:

Partial Provenance and Proactive Knowledge Sharing: Seeking Restorative Justice for First Nations and Inuit Ancestors at Edinburgh University  
Nicole Anderson (University of Edinburgh)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper reflects on proactive provenance work concerning First Nations and Inuit ancestors. I argue partial provenance can be transformed through community collaboration and outreach. Missing provenance is not a limitation but an opportunity to seek new approaches to fill gaps and restore justice

Paper Abstract:

Edinburgh University's Anatomical Museum's "Skull Room" contains the ancestral remains of nearly 1800 people, who often have missing, fragmented or incomplete provenance. As no online catalogue exists, descendants are often unaware their ancestors are interned here. This paper reflects on the possibilities of partial archival truths and inconsistent provenance in seeking restorative justice for these people. Through the process of proactive knowledge sharing with First Nations and Inuit communities from what is now Canada, I show how provenance was strengthened through face-to-face and embodied encounters which allowed descendants, community members and repatriation officers to supplement and transform the existing colonial record. As such, missing knowledge was not seen as a limitation, but rather uncovered new directions or orientations for research. Thus, I suggest that the colonial archive is over-emphasised in provenance research, and researchers must go beyond the archive, or risk withholding knowledge from descendants. Open dialogue, honesty and humility are integral in expanding the potential of provenance research, which requires researchers to examine their responsibilities to be open about what is known, and potentially knowable within existing records. Sharing missing knowledge and inconsistent provenance through community collaboration fills gaps in the colonial record, which may lead to new care practices, understandings of identity and eventually repatriation.

Panel OP071
Doing provenance research otherwise. From undoing colonial epistemologies to pluralising knowledge with museum collections
  Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -