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Making and unmaking the imperial museum 
Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape)
Martin Zillinger (University of Cologne)
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History (x) Decoloniality & Knowledge Production (y)
Neues Seminargebäude, Seminarraum 12
Thursday 1 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel examines different colonialisms and colonialities as enduring and violent, as not bound by formal colonial relations and also as sub-imperial in nature. Colonialism was also expressed through museum genres and took on a new form through the workings of European soft power.

Long Abstract:

The last 5-10 years have seen renewed calls for an extension of African sovereignty through restitution that have been accompanied by struggles against the memorial vestiges of empire as well as campaigns against racial injustice that has its origins in colonial violence. This last period has seen new understandings of the violence and enduring nature of colonialism and empire and of how these have not disappeared despite formal flag independence. While a few continue to argue for a balance sheet approach to empire's alleged benefits and failings, there is significant consensus about its substantial, adverse and long-term impact in all spheres of social life in African postcolonies. We have also come to understand how empires existed beyond formal colonial relations, even when societies had no colonies, and how subimperial systems, such as in southern Africa saw societies marked by multiple colonialisms and colonialities, of being colonisers and colonised. These complexities have all been manifested in museums of all kinds, not least the ethnographic museum, which we have come to understand as part of the colonial apparatus of governmentality, sometimes framed through a language of care. This panel will try to examine the full range of colonialisms and colonialities as expressed through museum forms and genres as a means of appreciating the complexities of decolonisation. It also wants to examine how new approaches to restitution and decolonisation might also be expressions of new colonialities through the workings of soft power.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 1 June, 2023, -