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Accepted Paper:

The limits of the decolonial option and the search for alternatives: 'Postcolonizing' the museum?  
Carolina Valente Cardoso (School of Global Studies GU)

Paper Short Abstract:

Notwithstanding its efficacy as rallying cry, the 'decolonizing' turn may run into unresolvable impasses, when applied to the heritage and museums sector. I point to such impasses using an analytical lens borrowed from the postcolonial critique of the decolonial theoretical turn.

Paper Abstract:

The term ‘decolonial’ and in particular its active derivate – decolonizing – has been remarkably operative. It has drawn global attention to matters of colonial injustice that seem to perpetuate themselves and mobilized people and institutions to push for and take reparative actions. As rallying cry, it travelled outside the walls of academia and had palpable effects in the museums and heritage sector, for instance.

With this as backdrop, in this paper I push for a particular type of “reality check”. My central argument is that, upon closer look, the decolonial theoretical turn runs into unresolvable impasses, when applied to the museums/heritage sector.

Going against the grain of the generalised appropriation of the concept predicated on its efficacy, my aim is to pause to reflect carefully about its deeper significance and implications for ongoing change in ethnographic/world culture museums.

I will work through my argument in three moments: (1) Beginning with an overview of the decolonizing movement in museums, (2) I continue by highlighting a few lines of the debate between decolonial and postcolonial theory. This will be my framework to shed light on what I see as limitations or deadlocks with which ethnographic/world culture museums are confronted as they face processes of decolonization. (3) Thirdly, I point to alternative ways to tackle these challenges through the prism of postcolonial ideas.

Panel P172
What’s in a name? A reality check on recent claims and practices of decolonising anthropology
  Session 2 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -