On the basis of our experience as editors of a debate on ethnographic museums in a German journal, we analyse the conditions and limits of the current debate on the ‘decolonisation’ of ethnographic museums in the German-speaking context. Strictly speaking, the German debate lags behind a bit in relation to the Anglophone debate, but in the face of the reorganisation of the Berlin ethnographic museum as the ‘Humboldt Forum’ it provides crucial insights into the epistemology of unfolding postcolonial debates. We diagnose certain pitfalls of this discussion, e.g. a tendency towards antagonisms and dichotomisation, an overemphasis on the topic of representation and on deconstructionist approaches, an underestimation of anthropology’s critical and self-reflexive potential and too narrow a focus on ethnographic collections. From our point of view, decolonisation must be a joint effort of all kinds of museum types – ethnographic museums, art museums and (natural) history museums as well as city museums, a museum genre being discussed with increased intensity these days. As a consequence, we suggest a more thorough reflection upon the positionality of speakers, but also upon the format, genre and media that facilitate or impede mutual understanding. Secondly, a multidisciplinary effort to decolonise museum modes of collecting, ordering, interpreting and displaying is needed, i.e. an effort which cross-cuts different museum types and genres. Thirdly, curators working towards this direction will inevitably have to deal with the problems of disciplinary boundary work and the underlying institutional and cultural-political logics. They eventually will have to work in cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional ways, in order to reassemble disparate collections and critically interrogate notions of ‘communities’ as entities with clear-cut boundaries. After all, in an environment of debate, an exhibition cannot any longer be understood as a means of conveying and popularising knowledge, but rather as a way of making an argument in 3D.
Baroque modernity, critique
and Indigenous epistemologies
in museum representations
of the Andes and Amazonia
Anthony Alan Shelton
The Andes and Amazonia have long undergone profound mythologisation
in European and American literature, art, and, more recently, in widely circulated and proliferative museum exhibitions. This chapter sets out to identify and describe five specific genres and characteristics of exhibitions from
1980 to the present, and, by focusing on two uniquely important examples,
The Potosí Principle (2010–2011) and Amazonie: Le chamane et la
with an added element of anxiety the future can be expected to be disastrous. The future then becomes a dystopia – an anti-utopia characterised by a breakdown of civilisation, famine, and either a nuclear winter or rising temperatures and floods. Where the Futurist wanted to pursue the speed of progress, survivalists or preppers want to prepare for the disaster by digging themselves into bunkers along with their supplies.
The relationship between progress and decay, between optimism and pessimism, has created its own genre, a genre that discusses the rise and fall
’ is more ambiguous; it often involves finding things that
were not lost; identifying things that were known to others; or the disclosure
of what was hidden or repressed. What needs to be considered is not the
‘selection’ of artefacts and artworks but their discovery, the encounter with
arrays of objects and the destabilisation which that encounter may give rise
to. For example, a search for a ‘good’ or ‘representative’ piece may put at risk
one’s sense of a genre or place. One may be distracted by another work, or
by some aspect of the provenance or story of an
such a broad field that there is room for a specialisation or a genre of literature that answers the question: Why history? (e.g. Southgate 1996 ; 2000 ; 2005 ; Evans 1997 ; Tosh 2008 ). The answers primarily reflect their time and place; but they are also an attempt to influence what direction the discipline should take in the future, and here the authors’ own positions become visible.
In a surviving manuscript called Apologie pour l’histoire ou Métier de l’historien ( The Historian’s Craft ), the Annales historian Marc Bloch began by reporting a question
–1945 (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2007); L. Keppie, William Hunter and the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow,
1807–2007 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007); S. Moser, Wondrous
Curiosities: Ancient Egypt at the British Museum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
2006); W. T. Stearn, The Natural History Museum at South Kensington: A History of the
British Museum (Natural History) 1753–1980 (London: Heinemann, 1981); D. M.
Wilson, The British Museum: A History (London: British Museum, 2002). Other valuable
works in this expanding genre include E. Crooke, Politics
the ideals espoused in the didactic literature of the period. The extent to which each individual manager was capable of implementing moral management in their respective asylums was limited by the expertise and quality of lower-level staff and the demands of the public. Management practice was further constrained by the limitations and boundaries of the space of the asylums. Asylum architecture has been presented as a specialist genre, in common yet separate from other contemporaneous institutions like prisons and workhouses. While surveillance was a concern, this
.g. Chamberlin 1979 ; Nielsen 1987 ; Cowell 2008 ).
The narratives about the emergence of the protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage form their own historical genre. They deal with the successful dissemination of heritage preservation as an idea and a practice, even though the concept of heritage makes its appearance relatively late in this development. This is a typical piece of legitimising Whig history-writing (e.g. Southgate 1996 : 110f), in which the management practices, laws, and conventions of today are the self-evident aims of an
as indicated above, essentially contains Erinnerungen, or memoirs, of
Kanitz’s Serbian years. Unlike his previous books, which are more or
less scholarly in their essence, Das Königreich Serbien is a travelogue,
and in accordance with the rules of the genre its narrative is unbounded,
sometimes even intimate. This gives us an insight into Kanitz’s network,
his personal relations with the people who helped him during the decades he spent in the Balkans.
The list includes people whom Kanitz met in Vienna while still preparing for his journeys, as well as those he met
of the statues I attempt to address here.
Medicine and materiality
Perhaps the best-known example of a ‘healing’ statue is that depicting a man
named Djedhor, of very early Ptolemaic date (Cairo JE 46341; JelínkováReymond 1956; Sherman 1981: 82–102; Plate 4). The form of this sculpture – a
block statue with Horus cippus in front of the shins – is, however, unusual
within the genre, which more commonly depicts standing figures. The means
by which Djedhor’s statue functioned in context seems self-evident: it sits upon
a socle with a depression forming a basin