Course run by Critical Heritage, University of Gothenburg at the Swedish National Museums of World Culture (SMVK) store rooms in Gothenburg.
During the 19-23 Maj a course at the stores of SMVK in Gothenburg was hold. Participants from different countries come to Gothenburg, for example, Uruguay, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Finland, UK, Nigeria, Jamaica, Argentina, Australia, Denmark and Sweden.
Four lecturers were helping us to reflect on the management and understanding of ethnographic collections in a contemporary context. The teachers were Walter Mignolo from Duke University, Wayne Modest from Troppen Museum, Sunna Kuoljok from Àjtte museum and Jette Sandahl from the City Museum of Copenhagen.
The weeks before the course started, we, the SMVK staff at the stores at Ebbe Lieberahtsgatan, were preparing objects, rooms, places to be to receive the participants. The museum stores does not need to be mausoleums, surrounded by objects it can be a meeting place, a place for reflection, discussion, conflict, mourning, emotions, knowledge.
Jamaican and the Sami objects were on focus. We went deep in the understanding of the objects, the relationships beyond… Both collections were, not only tools for understanding, they became important actors, linking us together, allowing conflicts, helping us to understand that objects are much more than stuff… they are people, relations, power, political statement, mourning, emotions, changes…and more.
One of the important learnings I took for myself as a curator, is how dangerous is use objects classified by this western system as ethnographic, as props. Using them as props is the way to make them “neutral”, put them again inside this modernistic colonial paradigm, reproducing stereotypes, making them and people “inoffensive and neutral actors”.
There were many powerful moments during the week. During the coming weeks some participants are going to share experiences as guest bloggers here.