Accepted paper:

Fishes out of water


Dennis Schauffer (University of KwaZulu Natal)

Paper short abstract:

The issue of decontextualisation in the display of African cultural artefacts in two private collections in Durban, South Africa and how such displays could be presented more appropriately through a postcolonial approach.

Paper long abstract:

The proposed paper intends to deal with the issue of decontextualisation of African cultural artefacts as displayed in two collections : The Phansi Private Museum and The Killie Campbell Collection, both in Durban KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The western mindset prompts the curator to list, research, identify, display in gallery lighting, meticulously number the holdings, and create catalogues. But in this attempt the artefact itself all too often looses its status as an object of significance within a living, inconstant and ever-changing culture and becomes instead an exotic object of mild curiosity The generative spirit that drove the creator of the artefact is silenced and the artefacts themselves remain like fish out of water.

panel P105
Museums and Anthropology: Colonial and post-colonial collections seen through museums, art and history