The Postcolonial Museum: The Arts of Memory and the Pressures of History

The Postcolonial Museum: The Arts of Memory and the Pressures of History

Language: English

Pages: 274

ISBN: 1472415671

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book examines how we can conceive of a ’postcolonial museum’ in the contemporary epoch of mass migrations, the internet and digital technologies. The authors consider the museum space, practices and institutions in the light of repressed histories, sounds, voices, images, memories, bodies, expression and cultures. Focusing on the transformation of museums as cultural spaces, rather than physical places, is to propose a living archive formed through creation, participation, production and innovation. The aim is to propose a critical assessment of the museum in the light of those transcultural and global migratory movements that challenge the historical and traditional frames of Occidental thought. This involves a search for new strategies and critical approaches in the fields of museum and heritage studies which will renew and extend understandings of European citizenship and result in an inevitable re-evaluation of the concept of ’modernity’ in a so-called globalised and multicultural world.

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specific colonial context of collecting and display; in 1992, Michael M. Ames wrote: ‘Museums are about cannibals and glass boxes, a fate they cannot seem to escape no matter how hard they try’ (Ames 1992, 3). To perhaps escape this ‘fate’, the efforts described above suggest ways in which this ‘cannibalistic’ appropriation of the materials of other cultures and the exhibitionary process that accompanies it might be exposed. What does this ‘exposure’ of colonial roots allow us to say about the

Museum of Anthropology, History and Ethnology in Mexico (1909) (Alexander and Alexander 2008, 72; Stocking 1985, 7). 3  William C. Sturtevant has defined the ‘museum period’ in anthropology, running from the 1840s to the 1890s, as the period when almost all research was done by museum anthropologists: ‘The gathering of museum collections during fieldwork, and studying them later on in the museum, was an important and respectable part of anthropological research’ (Sturtevant 1969, 622). But I

fragmentation, in the sense of separation of subjects from each other and the objective conditions of their existence. However, this is based on another more fundamental fragmentation. Memories are exteriorised, objectified, in mnemotechnics through ‘grammatisation’. This process involves the discretising of qualitative gestures, through repetitive and abstracted traces, such as writing (or indeed speech) and audio-visual recordings; even the repetitive gestures that make up labour –

the outset, I shall make a distinction between space (espace) and place (lieu) that delimits a field. A place (lieu) is the order (of whatever kind) in accord with which elements are distributed in relationships of coexistence. It thus excludes the possibility of two things being in the same location (place). The law of the ‘proper’ rules in the place: the elements taken into consideration are beside one another, each situated in its own ‘proper’ and distinct location …. A place is thus an

explore contemporary shifts in cultural, intellectual and aesthetic productions from a wide range of practices, engaging the effects of economic globalisation and the mutation of cultural geopolitics, aiming at creating 5  Psychoanalysis invites us to evaluate the notion of resistance ‘as both a defence and an authentic category of being’. 166 The Postcolonial Museum intercultural networks and circuits. In the words of Cuauhtémoc Medina, cofounder of the Teratoma group and Chief Curator at

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