Writing histories for a local museum in Southern Thailand
(Université Libre de Bruxelles / Laboratoire d'anthropologie des mondes contemporains)
Bérénice Bellina-Pryce (C.N.R.S (National Centre for Scientific Research))
Paper short abstract:
This paper proposes a reflexive approach of the fashioning of a local heritage centre in South Thailand. It especially focuses on notions such as the 'multivocality' (Hodder 2003) of the writing of history and of defining and displaying heritage.
Paper long abstract:
Archaeologists are increasingly confronted with demands to create community museums that display not only their findings but also take into account the vision the local populations have of their own past and its meaningfulness in the present. When the Thai-French Archaeological mission in the Thai-Malay Peninsula started its excavation in Chumphon in association with FAD and Silpakorn University in 2005, its members were asked to contribute to the construction of an on-site community museum. Simultaneously however, they were also confronted to multiple and competing interpretations of the past that emanated from various actors and mirrored to some extent social, political or religious affiliations as well as economic interests. In this paper, we present reflexive preliminary considerations related to the fashioning of this local heritage center in Chumphon through two main lenses. First, how may archaeologists, and anthropologists assist local populations in defining what they want to display as their 'heritage'? Second, how academic interpretations integrate local narratives and imaginaries and how are they sometimes used to sustain political claims? Still at an early stage, we aim to share with scholars engaged into similar experiences in Southeast Asia and Pacific regions notably about the 'multivocality '(Hodder 2003) and 'multisubjectivity' of the writing of history (Jablonka 2014) and the various regimes of historicity (Hartog 2003) that may dialogue or confront while producing new museums.
Local/global histories: the challenge of local museums