Vying for Museum Space: Re-writing Object Biographies in the Age of Decolonization

by Alice Stevenson, Mirjam Brusius, Jonathan Fine, Latika Gupta, Golda Ha Eiros, Heba Abd el-GawadLaura Osorio Sunnucks, and David Francis

Speakers at the ACHS 2020 Futures Conference, where this conversation took place.

How many stories can a museum object have? How can formerly excluded voices be empowered to tell their own histories about these objects? In this roundtable, participants of our launch workshop (Kingston, Jamaica, December 2019) met museum practitioners at the British Museum and the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin. They discussed new methods in relation to object biographies with a focus on the question of how such narratives could be incorporated and institutionalised in museum display and longer-term practice. How can we move towards a multilateral fusion of object histories that goes beyond presenting legacies in museums but also serve ‘communities of origin’? While some objects are being returned to their counties of origins in an ongoing repatriation debate, how can ‘100 histories of 100 worlds’ be ‘returned’ to the museum in a sustainable, equitable but also porous way? 

This podcast is the beginning of a generating dialogue between museums, and scholars and curators in and from the ‘Global South’. We will pose the next set of questions in our upcoming series, World Cafés.

A transcript will be available soon.


This podcast is introduced by Latika Gupta and outroduced by Mirjam Brusius. Speakers are presented by Mirjam Brusius and Alice Stevenson. It is produced by Alice Stevenson, and edited by Alice Stevenson and Mirjam Brusius. The intro and outro music, an ensemble of Kpanlogo drum (female and male), Djembe drum, Gome drum (Frame drum), Kwadum drum (from ‘Kete’ ensemble), Twin bell (Dawuta) and Rattle (Ntorwa), was produced by Kwan Pa for 100 Histories of 100 Worlds in 1 Object.

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