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Accepted Paper:

From a colonial collection to a postcolonial collective project: the cultural artefacts from Benin held in Toulouse (France)  
Magali Dufau (University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès) Kossi Gbèmako Théodore Atrokpo

Paper short abstract:

The Natural History Museum of Toulouse holds cultural collections from Benin acquired in a context of colonial domination. The challenge for the museum is to present polyphonic voices around the collections and to reflect with colleagues in Benin on a concrete attempt to postcolonize the museum.

Paper long abstract:

The Natural History Museum of Toulouse preserves cultural collections from Benin acquired in a political context of colonial domination. Around forty artifacts are for now identified with fragmentary knowledge: imprecise or non-existent archives, unknown acquisition contexts, and poorly documented uses. The COLL-AB project for « Collaborations - Collections from Abomey and Benin » is currently engaged with academic researchers, museum professionals and associative actors in Benin and in France in order to study the collections together. In this collective project in which nearly forty people in Benin and France are involved, we want to try to postcolonize the museum not only through the theoretical perspective of postcolonial studies but also through a practical methodology that we want to share, put to the test and improve through collective feedback. For us, this practical project is an attempt to face the challenge of colonial legacy in French museums, to consider the transcontinental circulation of these objects for the first time since their arrival in Toulouse and to include the controversial considerations of what should be an African way of exhibiting African collections in an African museum that would not be a simple transposition of an Western model. This approach is in line with the new practices of citizen sciences in the academic field and with the participative and inclusive researches recommended in the lastest ICOM museum definition. The ambition for the museum is no longer to present a univocal discourse on collections but the polyphonic voices of the different holders of knowledge.

Panel Arts16
Rebuilding museums and museologies in Africa
  Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -