SWICH Conference, July 2018, organized by maa Cambridge. Presentations and panel discussions explored recent examples of how museums of world culture are tackling legacies of empire and colonialism and issues of belonging.
We inhabit a time not only of global warming but increasing political heat. Across Europe, battles over citizenship, belonging and culture are intensifying. Ethnographic and world cultures museums are in a contradictory situation. On one hand, they are seen as bearers of appropriated heritage and unresolved colonial legacies. On the other hand, such museums are supported because they already connect, or have the potential to connect, diverse postmigrant communities.
SWICH has connected museums of ethnography and world cultures across ten countries. A network embracing museum curators and other staff, researchers, artists, activists and community representatives has reflected on what ethnographic museums do and can do, in increasingly conflicted European societies. They have considered in what senses museums can decolonise. Hosted by the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, the conference aimed to take these issues from the realm of critique and reflection into that of action.
Presentations and panel discussions explored recent examples of how museums of world culture are tackling legacies of empire and colonialism and issues of belonging in this landscape of intense debate. Case studies and perspectives from across Europe and beyond, and from across the spectrum of museum practice, including public engagement, exhibition, and collections management, raised challenges for institutions and stakeholders, and debate ways forward.
Speakers included: Arapata Hakiwai (Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa), Sharon MacDonald (Humboldt University, Berlin), George Nuku (Intervention Artist), Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen (Intervention Artist), Laura van Broekhoven (Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford) and Barbara Plankensteiner (Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg)
Download Programme HERE