11/03/21
 
About
DCNtR Decolonizing Collections – Networking towards Relationality Decolonizing – This blog is aimed at decentering the debate on colonial and ethnographic collections, archives, and museums. Its goal is to rethink colonial knowledges and dominant epistemic practices in an attempt to undo them. We seek to destabilize center-periphery divisions by providing a platform for diverse voices […]

The museum of liberation
An excursion into the early history of reconquest
“Nothing is more galvanizing than the sense of a cultural past. This at least the intelligent presentation of African Art will supply to us.” – Alain Locke, A Note on African Art, Opportunity, May 2, 1924 In his forward to the catalogue for the exhibition Blondiau – Theatre Arts Collection of Primitive African Art, which was […]

What do we know when we see?
Or how can museums of “the world” renew cultural geographies? A view from the State Museums of Dresden
Museums that have built collections of “world cultures”, known to us today as either ethnological or the more encompassing, encyclopedic museums, have not ceased to be the subject of impassioned debates. Even a cursory glance through the diverse and insightful contributions to this blog give us a sense of the poles along which deliberations over […]

“Dialogue” and “Collaboration” with “Source Communities”
Personal reflections on the theme of "common heritage"*
*Translated by Jonathan DeVore and Julian Schmischke Ethnological museums and collections occupy a special position within the museum landscape. One of the reasons for this is that many contemporary descendants of the communities from which the collections originate seek feedback from these collections. In this respect, these institutions have a new, particular user group, the […]

Humboldt Forum, Anthropology, and Cultural Heritage
Cultural heritage is the claim of a more or less exclusive collective ownership of material and/or immaterial cultural capital, whose origin in located in the past, which contributes to the construction of a group’s identity. This basically holds for all present and past societies of the world, although they differ from one another in the […]

Exasperation
An Outsider’s Take on (some of) the Current Debates Surrounding the Humboldt Forum
Last fall, when the editors of this blog asked me to join their discussions about the Humboldt Forum, I declined. They explained that they wanted to broaden the debate by bringing in outside views. They thought I would be a good candidate, given my past work on the history of German ethnology and ethnographic museums. […]

What is a devolution?
The circulation of remnants and demonstrations of trust and recognition of indigenous peoples in Brazil
Reading the contents in this blog (the ones I could read, since I don’t speak German), it struck me that, while a lot of debates in museums have been organized in terms of repatriation, in Brazil I have often heard a different term: devolution or return. So when I received an invitation to contribute to […]

Why has the ethnographic museum run out of steam?
Please allow me to begin with a Latourian digression to frame what I want to say about the current debates over ethnographic museums. “What has become of critique,” Bruno Latour asked almost fifteen years ago, “when an editorial in the New York Times contains the following quote? Most scientists believe that [global] warming is caused […]

Parzinger’s misconceptions and misrepresentations of the restitution of African artefacts
“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.” Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause.[1] In an interview dated February 2018, Dr Herrmann Parzinger, repeating […]

The Poisoned Museum
Recevoir est reçu The Edda/ M. Mauss 1 In an article in the 25 January issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Hermann Parzinger, took up Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion: artefacts that came to Europe in the colonial context should be exhibited in the site of their origin. In the […]

Photographs and colonial history in the museum
In Britain colonial history has, uncharacteristically, been headline news recently. This is not merely a post-Brexit vote sensitivity (well what is our history?), although this might be a deeply buried part of the narrative.  There are growing concerns about the visual conditions and public engagement with Britain’s colonial past. First were the demands from post-colonial […]