Associated Projects

Heritage Futures



Profusion is a theme of the Heritage Futures 4-year research project (2015–2019) funded by a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Large Grant and supported additionally by its host universities and partner organisations. The Heritage Futures project is carrying out ambitious interdisciplinary research to explore the potential for innovation and creative exchange across a broad range of heritage and related fields, in partnership with a number of academic and non-academic institutions and interest groups. The Profusion theme (based at the University of York and directed by Sharon Macdonald) focuses on the question of how museums and people in their homes decide what to keep in the face of mass production and consumption.

Project website:

France and Germany Facing Colonial Heritages


The critique regarding the collections constituted on the African continent during the colonial period profoundly changed the vision of the museum, by questioning the institution in its functioning, in connection with the emergence of an ethnography of the museum. As part of the project France and Germany facing Colonial Heritages: Contemporary Re-readings of Museum Collections, an interdisciplinary network of researchers is examining the impact of these changes on the museum landscape in France and Germany. This transnational study is concerned with the processes of the patrimonialization of objects and contemporary issues in which the colonial past is currently invested in the field of social, scientific, museum and artistic practices. The research group is centered around the seminar Rewriting the Colonial Past: Contemporary Challenges of Museum Collections. The collaboration with CARMAH will involve various forms of intellectual exchange, also including cooperation with the HKW.

For further information please see the project website:


Museum Affordances

Physical type photographs by the Government Anthropologist N. W. Thomas in West Africa, 1909-15, reworked by artist Chiadikōbi Nwaubani for the Museum Affordances project.


What do museums afford? What repertoires of action do they make possible? CARMAH is a partner in a 3-year project funded by the UK’s Arts & Humanities Research Council and led by Paul Basu, Professor of Anthropology at SOAS University of London, which is investigating the latent possibilities of museum collections, curatorial interventions and innovative exhibition practices. More particularly, the project explores how museums can activate ethnographic archives and collections assembled in the colonial era as catalysts for intercultural understanding, for recovery of lost histories, repairing past injustices, building relationships, exchanging knowledge and engaging creatively across social and cultural boundaries. Can such historical collections transcend the colonial contexts of their collection and be used as resources for decolonisation?

In pursuit of these objectives, the project is engaging in a programme of experimental museology, focused on a remarkable assemblage of objects, photographs, sound recordings, botanical specimens, fieldnotes and publications that constitute the legacy of a series of anthropological surveys undertaken by Northcote Whitridge Thomas (1868-1936). CARMAH researchers will be participating in a series of workshops, and CARMAH will itself be hosting the second workshop, in 2019. This will specifically address the affordances of different forms of intervention and engagement, including creative collaboration and the work of contemporary artists with ethnographic archives and collections.

For further information please see the project website:

Polish Folk Art and the Holocaust: Perpetrator-Victim-Bystander Memory Transactions in the Polish-German Context

Holocaust-themed folk art from Poland constitutes an important and as-yet-unexamined source that offers a unique perspective on the “dispersed” Holocaust that took place outside of the death camps, in full view of local “bystander” populations Created throughout the postwar decades, carvings and paintings of Holocaust scenes by Polish vernacular artists, who remembered pre-war Jews and witnessed the atrocities against them, have been largely forgotten in the holdings of Polish ethnographic museums or reside in private (mostly German) collections, without ever having been systematically examined as a source of knowledge about post-traumatic memory processes.

This project, funded by the DFG and NCN’s joint initiative “Beethoven,” focuses on such vernacular representations of the Shoah, and their impacts and instrumentalizations in East, West, and reunited Germany from 1945 until today, examining their role in Polish and German memory cultures. The study seeks, further, to determine to what extent German collectors stimulated memory of the Holocaust among Polish artists, and whether Germany’s “orientalist” gaze on Poland influenced the way this art was produced and received in the German states. Finally, the project will yield insights into the ways that Poles and Germans have negotiated their respective collective statuses as victim, witness, and perpetrator.

The project is carried out jointly with Magdalena Waligórska-Huhle, Roma Sendyka (Jagiellonian University in Kraków), and Erica Lehrer (Concordia University Montreal).