25504 | 12176 | Decolonising the Museum

Lecturer: Dr. phil. Roland Meyer

Monday, 13.45 - 17:00

Begin Monday, 11.10.2021, online, Link will be provided via Moodle

In recent years, calls for the "decolonisation" of the museum have become louder and louder. There is a growing public debate that revolves primarily around the return of looted objects to their rightful owners. However, given that the history of the modern European museum is closely interwoven with processes of colonial rule and imperialist expansion, questions of restitution, central as they are, are not the only issue. Rather, decolonisation is an ongoing process that challenges the museum at its core. Decolonising the museum means acknowledging how colonial knowledge structures and forms of representation continue to influence all aspects of museum work today - and striving for a fundamentally different understanding of the museum's role that allows new voices to be heard, new stories to be told and new forms of collaboration to be established.

In the seminar, we will look in depth at the history of the European museum and its entanglement with colonialism, nationalism and racism. We will also discuss the role of museums in postcolonial nation-building and the spectres of colonialism still haunting the contemporary global museum landscape today. In particular, we will take a look at how Berlin museums, such as the newly founded Humboldt Forum, are dealing with the colonial legacy of their collections. Questions of restitution and repatriation will be addressed as well as the possible role of digital media, both in overcoming as well as in reproducing colonial divides. Finally, we will take a look at alternative museum concepts that try to find ways towards a more just future.

Please note: The introductory session on 11 October will take place online! The WebEx link will be announced via Moodle, so please register in advance.

Link to Moodle