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​LAB
MUSEUM AND REPATRIATION

MUSEUM AND REPATRIATION
© Akinbode Akinbiyi

Themes such as Hierarchy vs. symmetry in academic thinking and the problematic of appropriation of objects/subjects by museums are discussed in the lab that intends to unfold into the creation of a working group. 

After the barcamps realized on the 24th, new working groups are formed to compose the labs divided in four formats: creative writing, artistic intervention, educational intervention, and social action. In this last group, the challenge proposed by the participants was to elaborate a proposal that would take advantage of the discussion around theories and conceptual categories during he barcamps, and that would point to a practical way of applying, at least initially, these ideas. In the afternoon of the 25th, the groups present collectively the results from the labs. 

HIERARCHY vs. SYMMETRY IN ACADEMIA

A converging theme among the participants of the social action lab is the necessity of change in the way in which academic thinking operates in relation to ideas. A central point is the discussion with regards to how academics still perceive themselves as possessors of a privileged knowledge, in a way that there could be an opening towards a larger respect towards other forms of knowledge. “The challenge of academia is to not put itself as a power before other communities, as an authority. We all agree with this agenda, but the question persisted: what are we going to do? A booklet for the academic who wants to be less hierarchical and more symmetrical? The first idea is to create a collective with people interested on the subject who can connect with each other. We decided that this could be done initially on an online platform, where we would start with basic steps on how to define our objectives and main preoccupations,” says Moises Lino e Silva, mediator of the lab. 

THE PROBLEM OF THE REPATRIATION OF COLLECTIONS OF OBJECTS/SUBJECTS

Moises says that the group opted to discuss about problematics of knowledge and power in the dynamic of museums. Questions are raised, such as: what do we do with museum objects that are in Europe, for example, but that belong to African and indigenous peoples? How can we think about a repatriation of these artifacts? “It is necessary to understand better what these objects are, that to others they are subjects. It is necessary to work on the consciousness of the problem, because maybe people still do not understand it well yet. Not many people know that there are South African skull exposed in museums in Europe,” provokes Moises. 

FIRST STEPS

As a departing point, the lab participants propose a mapping of this activity area, in a research of groups and NGOs that are already working or preoccupied with matters related to museums and the repatriation of collections. “We think about contacting the museums that keep these objects/subjects that were taken from other parts of the world and to organize an event, maybe with the support of the Goethe-Institut in Salvador, in order to deal with this theme locally, bringing people from museums, European curators, and interested communities, for exemple that are indigenous and African,” he resumes.

by Cadu Oliveira 

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