Africa Knows! It is time to decolonise minds

Panel B09 (1 video; 13 papers, 6 withpdf files)

Title of panel:

Decolonizing African heritage inside and outside the African continent
[initiated by the University of Mainz, with Leiden University/Anthropology, University of Rwanda]

Marieke van Winden (conference organiser, African Studies Centre Leiden);
Anna-Maria Brandstetter (Universität Mainz);
Peter Pels (Leiden University);
Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape).

Stream: B: Decolonising knowledge
Start time: 19 January, 2021 at 10:00 (UTC+1)
Session slots: 2

Long abstract:
In a report commissioned by Emmanuel Macron, Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy argue that the return of African heritage also implies 'that the model of a centralized museum for all objects of cultural heritage is only one possible example among many others' for projects of restitution (2018: 32). Going beyond the mere return of objects, one should ask which models of museums and heritage are being used by Africans (on the continent as well as in the diaspora), which European models are viable, and which have become obsolete. Who needs museums of Africa, and why? While international organizations continue to insist on forms of heritage that too rarely benefit the inhabitants of the African continent, curators in Africa have been and are experimenting with different models of national and community museums since the start of the long (and still unfinished) process of decolonization. But decolonization also implies that one asks to what extent certain basic assumptions of 'musealization' and heritage - such as the need for preservation, and the assumption that objects and images are dead - are necessary and true in the present. A more radical notion of restitution, one that departs from the model of European museums, may restitute not (only) the object itself, but restitute to the object 'forms of knowledge at the heart of participative ecosystems' (Achille Mbembe, cited in Sarr & Savoy 2018: 34) - forms of knowledge that may question both the museum model and its roots in nationalism. This panel asks what knowledge can be and is culled from the longue durée of the history of heritage care in Africa, and how its precolonial and colonial relationships affect and should affect postcolonial relationships in both Africa, Europe and beyond. This panel invites papers that deal with this renegotiation process.

13 Accepted papers:
1 no pdf file present 'Not about us without us!': a material analysis of the controversies surrounding the repatriation of 'trophies' from German South-West Africa

2 no pdf file present Decolonizing museums and rethinking restitution processes in Rwanda

3 pdf file present The decolonization process: workflows and best practices for the collection of African materials and literature in American university libraries

4 pdf file present Chapters in the life of the ancestors: a reflection on heritage and religion from Africa

5 no pdf file present Museumification of architectural heritage in Badagry community (Nigeria): trend, challenges and way-forward

6 pdf file present Visualising power discourse in the museum: the 'Unseen Archives of Idi Amin' exhibition

7 pdf file present How to 'decolonize' a collaboration? The cultural heritage projects of the National Museum of Mali and the National Museum of Ethnology

8 no pdf file present Multiple colonialisms and the challenges of decolonisation for museums in South Africa

9 no pdf file present Western knowledge and African heritage: Ifá Heritage Institute as a focus

10 pdf file present Safeguarding African cultural heritage on postage stamps against further colonization efforts

11 no pdf file present Restitution as repair: decolonisation in the museum of black civilisations

12 pdf file present Bringing people and stories together: towards decolonising archaeology in Sudanese Nubia

13 no pdf file present Decolonizing the cosmopolitan approach to the restitution of stolen artifacts in Africa

* This conference took place from December 2020 to February 2021 *
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