An Interview with Mirjam Brusius, Subhadra Das and Alice Stevenson, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research.
There is a fundamental need to consider the position and power of where our narratives come from.— Subhadra Das.
On a Friday evening in June 2018, all three conveners attended one of the Uncomfortable Art Tours in the British Museum. These tours are the initiative of Alice Procter, during which she confronts, directly and without compromise, the colonial origins of the collections. Alice Procter’s narratives weave around and beyond the objects on display, unmasking the silences created by the seemingly benign language of the accompanying labels. As we explored the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum we bemoaned the limitations of exhibitions, but I also recalled the British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 Objects as an act of public engagement that had longer format stories centred upon objects, but which was equally subject to the sorts of critiques being raised in the tour. As a microcosm of the ‘universal museum’, the BBC 4 radio programme and accompanying book seemed like an ideal departure point for a very practical way to challenge and fragment the all too neat histories that the British Museum, but also many other museums, present. Things then moved very quickly. On the same day, after the tour, we asked ourselves what an alternative history of these objects might look like. We decided that the nature, format and content of such a history could be generated through open dialogue prioritizing a much more diverse and international set of voices, perspectives and communication styles.
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