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The State and the Museum: Representations and Refusals
Museums have levied epistemic violence against colonized and minority communities since their inception by representing dominant discourses and histories. Many museums house colonial collections, and/or are governmental institutions, especially in post-colonial societies. Exhibits featuring these collections have usually elided the difficult knowledge that contextualized them, especially when adhering to the project of nationalism, resulting in demands for artistic and curatorial interventions and diversity in hiring practices. Furthermore, this century has witnessed an escalation in nationalistic fervor and resistance movements around the world, as well as a dynamically debated discourse around repatriation and decolonization. In this discussion, we address the relationship that exists between museums, the state, and the nation. The presence of statecraft within the museum has to be confronted in terms of its objects and exhibits and its representations and refusals. What is the responsibility of the museum as an anthropological institution? How does its institutional structure allow for resistance, if such a thing can be imagined or practiced within its walls? What kinds of negotiations can be facilitated by the museum and what kinds of refusals are possible? We discuss the actualities of the museum with respect to its statist features and values, as well as the potentialities for growth, death, and regeneration.

MODERATOR:
Sowparnika Balaswaminathan, Assistant Professor (Religions & Cultures), Concordia University & Research Associate, Smithsonian NMNH

SPEAKERS:
Karl Johnstone (Rongowhakaata) is the Founder/Director of Haumi, a multi-disciplinary cultural and creative studio based in Auckland, New Zealand.

Wayne Modest is Director of Content of the National Museum of World Culture (a museum group comprising the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, Africa Museum) and the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

Feb 2, 2023 03:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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