15/05/21
 
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 Museums of Black Civilisations, between History and Utopia
DCNtR Debate #3. The Post/Colonial Museum
Introduction The idealisation of the Musée des Civilisations Noires (Museum of Black Civilizations, MCN) is attributed to Senegalese activist Lamine Senghor (1889–1927). It was in 1926, with the creation of the Comité de Défense de la Race Nègre (CDRN)[1] that the pan-African luminary firstly mentioned a museum for the preservation of African dignity and heritage. […]

The Bandjoun Station
DCNtR Debate #3. The Post/Colonial Museum
An Interview with Barthélémy Toguo, conducted by Anna Brus and Bernard Müller This conversation focuses on the local activities and community work of the visual arts centre and museum of contemporary art Bandjoun Station in the West-Cameroon highlands.[1] The project that is run by the Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo goes far beyond the model of […]

The Post/Colonial Museum: Rethinking the Past, Collecting the Present
DCNtR Debate #3. The Post/Colonial Museum
A conversation with Dr. Silvie Memel-Kassi, former Director of the Musée des Civilisations, Abidjan, and currently Directrice Générale de la Culture de Côte d’Ivoire, Nanette J. Snoep, Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne and Martin Zillinger[1] Nanette J. Snoep (N.J.S.) & Martin Zillinger (M.Z.): In your work you’ve always stressed that the museum is a space of memory […]

What I Have Learned from my Ban from the Humboldt Forum
First, let me attempt to explain why I received a museum ban. Indeed, a sensible decision that many have made has been to avoid going into museums completely, that is also a decision that I dabbled with for some time. Though to call it a decision would imply that my not going was a matter […]

„Our Colonial Heritage”
An Exhibition Review of the Tropenmuseum´s New Permanent Exhibition
Entering the Tropenmuseum always fills me with a mixed feeling of awe and discomfort. The grandiose imperial architecture of its central hall has lost nothing of its power to instil these emotions in the visitor coming face to face with what was once the Koloniaal Museum of the Dutch Empire. Since then, the museum’s contents […]

The Invention of Pest Control in Museums
Book Review of Schädlingsbekämpfung in Museen. Wirkstoffe und Methoden am Beispiel des Ethnologischen Museums Berlin. 1887–1936 by Helene Tello.
  Helene Tello: Schädlingsbekämpfung in Museen. Wirkstoffe und Methoden am Beispiel des Ethnologischen Museums Berlin. 1887–1936, Köln Wien, Böhlau Verlag, 2022. ISBN Print: 9783412524609— ISBN E-Book: 9783412524616 Coming from cultural studies, I started to approach the chemical history of conservation in museum collections by looking at it as a cultural technique. I was intrigued by […]

06/18/22
Iconoclash in the GRASSI Museum
Seeking publicity for an international museum crisis by way of a damaged pedestal
The current debate surrounding colonial collections has unleashed a veritable feud in and around ethnological museums, which pits reformers and preservationists against one another, seemingly irreconcilably. In feuilletons, newsletters, and mailing lists, voices are growing ever shriller, and the means employed ever harsher, as peers and colleagues attack each another and seek to mobilize audiences […]

Decolonizing Provenance Research in Practice. Some Guidelines
DCNtR Debate #2. Thinking About the Archive & Provenance Research
With increased public and professional calls to re-examine collecting, many museums have renewed commitments to provenance research. Provenance research raises pressing ethical questions: to whom should cultural heritage belong? How can museums equitably address unethical historical collecting practices? Provenance cannot necessarily answer these questions but sharing provenance information allows museums to tell more nuanced stories […]

Collections, Archives, Repositories. Thoughts about Terminology from a Peripheral Ethnological Collection
DCNtR Debate #2. Thinking About the Archive & Provenance Research
As Brian M. Watson recently argued, the “archive” should not “refer to, well, just about anything”. Apart from muddying the waters and confusing what an actual archive is and what the people working there, archivists, do, it is of particular importance for the emerging re-engagement with ethnological museum collections in the context of provenance research. […]

“Sensitivity” at Work. A Double-Edged Sword
DCNtR Debate #2. Thinking About the Archive & Provenance Research
“Cultural sensitivity” has emerged as a central, though ambivalent, concept in my archival work of the past twenty years. Thereby, my experience has been markedly influenced by my regional focus on North America. Here, socio-political changes led to the passing of laws such as the Indian Religious Freedom Act and the Native Grave Protection and […]