STOLEN MEMORIES: MUSEUMS, SLAVERY AND (DE) COLONIALITY
Middelburg Decolonial Summer Course
University College Roosevelt
Tuesday June 30th – Thursday July 16th 2015
Museums and Universities are two fundamental institutional formations of modernity/coloniality. They are at the same time holders of coloniality of knowledge and the makers of modern/colonial subjectivities. Ethnographic museums served to store the stolen memories of the colonized while Art History and Fine Arts Museums served to build on the memories and achievements of Europe and Western Civilization.
The Tropen Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin are paramount institutions of stolen memories. While the British Museum and Le Louvre combine both, stolen and proper memories. Under what historical conditions museums emerged as constitutive institutions of Western Civilization? Who built them? How, when and why did the distinction between ¨art¨ and ¨ethnographic¨ museums come to be? What are the purposes of the difference between ethnographic and fine art museums?
Today such distinction is being contested in two directions. On the one hand, by building museums, in the Western as well as non-Western world, devoted to retrieve stolen memories and to heal the wounds of the negated and denied ways of living and being in the world. The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and the National Museum of American Indians in Washington DC are two inviting reflections and actions toward decolonizing knowledge and subjectivities. On the other hand, emerging economies in the Arab Gulf as well as Singapore are, through the institutional figure of the museum, restoring histories that Western modernity disregarded. The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Museum of Asian Civilizations in Singapore, are two cases of dewesternization.
The 2015 edition of the Decolonial Summer School in the Netherlands will be devoted to explore how institutions like the museums in tandem with the universities have functioned for the consolidation of Western modernity and European imperial expansion by disdaining other civilizational trajectories. The course will also explore emerging projects of decolonizing and re- orienting the goals of ethnographic museums as well as building non-Western Civilizational museums. Both trajectories complement themselves in the task of restoring dignity and plurality through the re-emergence of stolen memories.
FACULTY OF 2015