WHAT CAN I SAY?
The Role of Dutch Curators in Representing African Culture in a Context of Decolonization of the Museum
This thesis will discuss how curators perceive and understand their role in representing African culture in a context of decolonization of the museum. Thereby looking at the role of museums in society and the prevailing influence of a colonial history. The combination of an analysis of the publication ‘Words Matter’ (2018) by the Research Centre for Material Culture, and interviews with curators who are working on exhibitions about African culture, will provide a comprehensive overview of the current situation in museums. This thesis will offer the perspective of an outsider looking at the behind-thescenes of museums and how they deal with research, collections and exhibitions of Africa. The results of this research show that curators are dealing with past practices of categorizing and (racial) stereotyping, which reflects the origins of ethnographic museums. In this context, curators perceive and understand their role as gatekeepers and storytellers, which implies that they decide which stories are told and in which ways, thus carrying a lot of responsibility. Nowadays, there has been a lot of critique on the way museums present and represent ‘other’ people and ‘other’ cultures. Museums have to deal with their colonial legacy in order to stay relevant, which has led to the process of decolonization. Current approaches are dealing with word choices and provenance research, but also focusing on the communities to include different voices in the creation of exhibitions. Besides this, curators aim to be socially concerned on different levels and want to contribute to mutual understandings in society. Their practices revolve around being self-aware and selfcritical in the process of creating representations. The process of decolonization is interesting as it marks a new direction for museums and involves a lot of internal processes regarding the role of curators. Through the in-depth interviews with curators working on exhibitions about African culture, more insights were obtained about the curatorial attitudes and practices in the context of decolonization of the museum. Moreover, the role of the curator is often neglected in other researches and is therefore of crucial importance in this thesis as it provides a dynamic overview of their role in representing African culture. Especially in the context of a ‘booming’ Africa, it is important that museums display the diversity and positive sides of developments in Africa.
|Keywords||kunstwetenschappen, cultuurwetenschappen, curatorial practices, representation, decolonialization, museum exhibitions, African, culture|
|Thesis Advisor||A. Brandellero|
|Series||Master Arts, Culture & Society|
A. R. Schalk. (2019, June 14). WHAT CAN I SAY?. Master Arts, Culture & Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/49428