Lecture:

Re-Collecting Ourselves: Indigenous Time, Culture and Museums

6 pm / CARMAH/Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Room 408, Mohrenstraße 40/41, 10117 Berlin

Tony Bennett uses the phrase ‘Re-collecting ourselves’ to refer to a range of critical interfaces that have been produced between Indigenous Australians and museums through which the former have reasserted varying degrees of symbolic and material control over collections that were earlier ceded to museums in varying relations of unequal exchange. He argues, however, that the ‘selves’ that are thus re-collected are not–and cannot be–exclusively or essentially Indigenous but are rather caught up in ongoing processes of negotiation between Indigenous and Western knowledges to yield a range of new hybridised identities and national memories. He will probe these issues by looking first at the Encounters – Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum exhibition that was held, across 2015 to 2016, at the National Museum of Australia. He will consider this in the light of the longer history through which the culture concept initially developed in American anthropology, and the associated concept of culture areas, has contributed to a reconfiguration of the relations between Australian museums and their Indigenous ‘source communities’ in ways that have made the latter, so to speak, ‘anthropologists of themselves.’ In developing this argument he draws on Nicholas Thomas’s characterisation of the critical work that Indigenous intellectuals perform on and with collections of Indigenous cultural materials in museums as a ‘kind of reverse fieldwork.’ This perspective also informs his engagement with the National Museum of Australia’s parallel exhibition–Unsettled–which exemplifies a range of curatorial and art projects through which Indigenous Australian have sought to deconstruct the apparatuses of museum.

 

Duane Jethro
Duane Jethro
Duane Jethro
Duane Jethro
Duane Jethro
Duane Jethro
Duane Jethro
, Tony Bennett