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 […]

Female Collectors in colonial and postcolonial North and Central America
Ethnographic collections from the 19th and early 20th centuries were evidently almost exclusively made by men. But what about women? Were they not involved, or were they just not explicitly mentioned in the inventories? In fact, women created their own collections. However, the inventories do not necessarily reflect their names, even less their specific roles. […]

The ambivalence of gender:
The collector, ethnographer and colonial women’s movement activist, Antonie Brandeis
Several museums in Germany and the USA hold collections of material culture and photography from Micronesia, gathered by Antonie Thawka Brandeis née Ruete (1868–1945) during her stay on the Marshall Islands in the years 1898–1904.[1] She accompanied her husband, Eugen Brandeis, who served as imperial governor of the Marshall Islands for two terms from 1898–1906. […]

Gendered Objects – Gendered Collecting:
How Colonial Missionary Masculinity Has Structured Ethnographic Collecting
Missionaries were prolific collectors of ethnographic objects for Western museums. Yet the characteristics of missionaries’ collecting and knowledge are rarely given sufficient scrutiny. My aim is to demonstrate why examining missions and their characteristic masculinities is important for understanding colonial ethnographic collecting. These masculinities inscribed themselves into collecting and collections. Why masculinities? Because the religiously […]

Domesticity and the Practice of Anthropology:
Cara David’s ‘Ethnographic’ Collections from the Funafuti Coral Reef Boring Expedition of the Royal Society, 1897
Histories of ‘ethnographic’ collecting often focus on the transactional relationship between collector and subject, ignoring gender and how it shapes knowledge-making projects. In June 1897, Cara (Caroline) David accompanied her husband Tannatt William Edgeworth David, Professor of geology at the University of Sydney, on the second of three ambitious geological expeditions to the atoll of […]

To ‘Decenter’, You Need an Ethics of Dissensus
What does the idea of “decentering” ethnographic museums entail from the perspective of an empirical philosopher, STS-researcher and postcolonial knowledge worker? Helen Verran talks with Michi Knecht about acknowledging incompatibilities beyond universalist claims and “objects before classification” as starting points. Museums, as potential sites of the multiverse, need to seriously cultivate a culture of dissent […]

Africa’s Fight for Its Art
A Conversation between Bénédicte Savoy and Nanette Snoep.
In her latest book “Africa’s Fight for its Art. Geschichte einer Postkolonialen Niederlage” (History of a Post-Colonial Defeat), Bénédicte Savoy, the French art historian and expert in the field of restitution, traces the struggle of African states for the return of their artworks stolen by the European colonial rulers, which has now lasted over 50 […]

Towards the Anticolonial Museum
Dan Hicks and Ciraj Rassool talk about the failure of ethnographic museums in the Global North and the need to rethink them in anticolonial terms. Together with Nanette Snoep and Nina Möntmann, they explore the notions of white infrastructures and necrographies that Dan emphasizes in his latest book, The Brutish Museums. This interview is part […]

Will Provenance Research Delay Restitution of Looted African Artefacts?
There have been in recent months many references to provenance research whenever there have been discussions on restitution of looted African artefacts that are in Western museums and institutions. The impression often arises as if provenance research and restitution were inextricably linked. However, some supporters of provenance research make it clear that the two are […]

Restitution of Knowledge:
Beyond Nefertiti
“Nefertiti can be a symbol for empowering women and should return to Egypt”, says Monica Hanna. She explains why restitution is about objects and the knowledge about objects. In her interview with Richard Bussmann, Monica Hanna talks about ethnic diversity and the Nubia Museum in Aswan, the future of archaeology in Egypt, Egypt’s positioning between […]

A Response to Horst Bredekamp
In an op-ed entitled “Fanatics of Purity”, published on March 8 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the prominent art historian Horst Bredekamp — a founding director of the Humboldt Forum, and a director of the international research group of which I am a member – declares “postcolonialism” and “political correctness” to be nothing less […]