Accepted paper:

Through the lenses of the Diaspora: the role of the diasporic imagination, local Yorùbá identity and museum collections

Authors:

Anna Catalani (University of Lincoln)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the redefinition of local cultural heritage with African diasporic communities, through their ‘diasporic imagination’ and in relation to their traditional objects displayed in UK museums. It focuses on Yorùbá diasporic communities based in Manchester and explores the ways this diasporic group redefines its diasporic identity.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at the redefinition of local cultural heritage with African diasporic communities, through their 'diasporic imagination' and in relation to their traditional objects included in colonial collections, displayed in British museums. Within this context, the term 'diasporic imagination' will be used to indicate the reinterpretation of the past on the basis of present, experienced memories of displacement (Ang, 2011). As Jeanette Joy Fisher points out: 'as human beings, we all have a desire to feel as if we belong to a social and cultural community. We long for a feeling of attachment, of being rooted in a particular place, and of feeling as if we have ownership of something significant in our lives' (http://environmentpsychology.com/place_identity.htm). However, diasporic groups, including the African/Yorùbá ones, lack this attachment and ownership to a particular place. Museums can certainly support diasporic groups in overcoming this estrangement, by assisting them to create a sense of place and negotiate their identities. Nevertheless, in order to do so, it is essential that museums construct narratives of redefinition and reinvention that claim the present, through the past. The paper will focus on the local Yorùbá diasporic communities (first and second generation) based in Manchester and it will explore the ways this diasporic group redefines its African/Yorùbá diasporic identity and mediates it with its new, British identity, by relating and interpreting their traditional objects displayed in museums in the North-West England.

panel MMM03
Mobile objects and transnational crafts