Accepted Paper:

Stuff and Heirlooms, genealogies and legacies of colonial objects  
Pim Westerkamp (National Museum of World Cultures)

Paper short abstract:

I compare Indonesian objects from my family with similar ones in the museum to answer the question Why (colonial) things matter? What do different processes of curation in private and public spaces reveal, what stays hidden and what are the durabilities of colonial concepts?

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I elaborate on the question Why (colonial) things matter? by looking at the concepts of curation of (colonial) Home-possessions (Daniel Miller) in the intimacy of the home and the curation of similar collections of ethnographic (public) museums. These different spaces can be seen as contact zones in which the objects are used in multiple ways of displays, storytelling and performances of selves and others.

I will use the metaphor of the home to think about part of the museum collections as Home-possessions too in order to look at the life, vibrancy and agency of objects and how they were curated in these spaces.

I will argue that by curating these objects (hidden) messages of fluid performed selves and fixed racialized identities to `OthersĀ“ are conveyed and hence used in processes of in- and exclusion both in the private and public sphere. To acknowledge these processes and their durabilities in our present day will help us to disentangle the complexities of the curation, story-telling and performance in ethnographic museums and to look for new and other ways of curating.

I position myself as a person who is deeply implicated in colonial histories and cultures, precisely because of my Dutch and Eurasian family background and the proximity of these objects, both in the private sphere and in the museum. This has deeply influenced me in the past and in the present in my capacity as a curator of Southeast-Asia/Indonesia.

Panel P064
Redefining the curator, curatorial practice, and curated spaces in anthropology