Fernanda Olivares Fundación Hach Saye

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Constanze Schattke Natural History Museum Vienna/University of Vienna

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Hema’ny Molina Fundación Hach Saye

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Margit Berner Natural History Museum Vienna

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Sabine Eggers Natural History Museum Vienna/University of Vienna

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Re-telling the story of Selk’nam ancestors
From Karokynká/Tierra del Fuego to Austria

Museums are places characterised by collecting objects, displaying them for public education and also subjecting their collections to research. Yet knowledge can not only be created by using the collection for research. The history of a collection can also be reconstructed, albeit mostly in a fragmentary way. This is important when there is evidence that the collection was acquired in a colonial context, when the collection contains human remains and more so if these were taken from Indigenous peoples. Reconstructing the history of a collection can assist source communities in strengthening their identities and help to regain lost knowledge about their ancestors. This study analyses the provenance of fourteen crania and calvaria of the Selk’nam people from Tierra del Fuego, stored at the Department of Anthropology, Natural History Museum Vienna. Additionally, the significance of these results and their meaning for today’s Selk’nam community Covadonga Ona will be contextualised within the framework of colonial history and museum systems.

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