Natural History’s Colonial Entanglements: Australian Objects in Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde

IMG_1269Recent years have seen a growing interest among museum practitioners, as well as the greater German public, in the history of objects acquired in colonial contexts. This turn to colonial objects forms part of a broader shift in the status accorded to colonialism in Germany’s memory culture. Long neglected or wilfully ignored, Germany has for a long time been reluctant to accept the responsibilities arising from the nation’s colonial past.

Objects and specimens collected in the colonial era have a particular role to play in this process, as demonstrated, for instance, by the heated discussions around the current reassessment and relocation of some of Berlin’s ethnological and ethnographic collections, which are to be housed, as of 2019, in the Humboldt Forum in Mitte. In this context, questions are being asked about the legal context of the objects’ acquisition and their adequate management by museum staff and researchers. How are such items to be cared for and stored? How, if at all, should they be made accessible to the public, and possibly displayed? Should they be returned? And there is a slowly growing understanding of the kind of complicated ongoing connections and obligations that these objects might establish between European collecting institutions and Indigenous communities today.

It might seem slightly eccentric to raise the issue of natural history collections within the context of these debates about the legacy of German colonialism and the attendant politics of collection, display and repatriation. Nevertheless, I want to situate natural history objects within such a framework for two reasons that foreground the entanglements of humans and non-human objects in our social histories. Continue reading

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debate 3: pluralising practices, part III

What kind of knowledge do we have to define in order to initiate a decolonial university? In her contribution to the “Pluralising Practices” debate, Katrin Köppert takes this question as a starting point to discuss the project “DE_colonize Uni_VERSITY”.

debate 3: pluralising practices, part II

After the interrogation of pluralising activist and artistic practices, Hongwei Bao cautions against an uncritical celebration of pluralising practices without taking into consideration its neoliberal conditions for both academics and cultural workers in his contribution to the second instalment of the “pluralising practices” debate.

debate 3 on pluralising practices

criticalhabitations opens the third debate on: pluralising practices.

Introduced by the editors of critical habitations, the debate features contributions by Anna Artaker, who describes her artistic practice which transforms Walter Benjamin’s concept of the “dialectical image” into a body of artworks in her project MEDIUMS OF HISTORY, and Sumugan Sivanesan who interrogates transmedia civil disobedience in the age of fossil-fuelled information capitalism.

How you can contribute.

Exhibition: Rencontres Improbables


Rencontres Improbables 
(The Secret Encounters Of Kusama Kalthoum)
kuratiert von Jayce Salloum und Mireille Kassar

3. September 2016 bis 1. Oktober 2016
Eröffnung | Samstag 3. September 2016 | 19 Uhr


Walaa Al Alawi, Syria/ Jordan | Tina-Maria Al Jabri, Beirut | Samirah Alkassim, Washington, DC | Nadim Asfar, Paris/Beirut | Sonny Assu, unceded Ligwildaʼx̱w territory (Campbell River, BC) | Uriel Barthélémi, Paris | Dominique Lacloche + Thomas Bottini, Paris | Gaye Chan, Kaneohe, Hawai’i | New BC Indian Art and Welfare Society Collective, Canada (is on Indigenous land) | Anita Dube, New Delhi | Ayumi Goto, Kelowna, BC | Stacey Ho, Vancouver | Amélie Legrand, Berlin | Henrick Plenge Jacobsen, Copenhagen | Mireille Kassar, Paris/Beirut | Jeneen Frei Njootli, Vancouver | Bernadette Phan, Vancouver | Thi Tam Phan, Vancouver | Emilio Rojas, Mexico City/Chicago | Jayce Salloum, Vancouver | Wilfred Sampson, Vancouver | Sumugan Sivanesan, Sydney/Berlin + Tessa Zettel, Sydney/Paris | Chris Turo, Vancouver | Jin-me Yoon, Vancouver | Lisa Schmidt-Colinet + Alexander Schmoeger, Vienna + Florian Zeyfang, Berlin

 

Jayce Salloum (Kanada) & Mireille Kassar (Frankreich) kollaborieren mit internationalen Künstler*innen.
Die gezeigten Arbeiten überschreiten ihre Spezifik und werden Teil einer eigenständigen Geschichte, die sich über die Ausstellung hinaus immer weiter schreiben wird.

 

… „ Wir haben ein engagiertes Projekt geschaffen, dass zu sorgfältigen dialektischen Juxatpositionen anregt, schöpferische Eingriffe, Überlagerungen, Licht wie Spiel vereinigend, Interaktionen hervorruft die sich direkt auf die erfahrbaren Ebenen der Ausstellung auswirken. In diesem vielschichtigen Organismus in Bewegung können hier Dinge erscheinen und verschwinden – ein Geist in den Fasern der Ausstellung; wir müssen die Ideen erneuern, diesen kleinen Ort wie einen nomadischen Ort, das Scheußliche und das Erhabene entlang des Weges erblicken, den Künstler und den Betrachter mit dieser Trennung herausfordern und damit konfrontieren; unter vielfachen Klängen die Wahl treffen; die Architektur, das rohe Material, die Energie, unvorhersehbare Begegnungen zu bezeugen.”  (Jayce Salloum & Mireille Kassar)

 

…„ Rencontres Improbables is to be considered as a stance, a sort of “pause” belonging to a much more global motion. Making a mark, the proposition is intense rather than merely a sampling, a set of statements of presence and articulations of being. The project is founded upon the idea of “intensity” rather than of “expansion” or “addition”. It is a summation of joint forces. There is no frivolity, or at least if there is, it will be for relief; for moments of plea- sure to counter the weight we feel tasked with, the meanings we are driven to make. These meanings are a matrix of lives, struggles, energies, sculpting the space and engaging the visitor.” (Jayce Salloum & Mireille Kassar)

Waste Matters: Workshop at University of Potsdam, July 8th 2016

Contemporary cities generate waste of various kinds on a scale that is often difficult to imagine and comprehend. Yet cities are also key sites for innovative practices of reuse, recycling and re-purposing. Through such cultures of renewal, waste products not only acquire a new value and function, but they also become entangled in new social relations, material practices and urban forms. Although waste is generally understood as the mundane, worthless, redundant and discarded afterwards of how we live our lives, this project takes as a starting point the fact that we spend a good amount of time in our ‘ordinary’ lives managing waste, and that the problem of how we manage waste is at the heart of environmental crisis and the development of more sustainable futures. Building on research in waste studies, and premised on the analytic importance of exploring that which is rejected, this project recognizes waste as a dynamic category that needs to be understood in relation to the urban contexts in which it is most commonly found and transformed, and the relationships in which it is embedded.

The workshop brings together scholars from Australia and Germany within the fields of cultural and urban studies to investigate the diverse cultural phenomenon that is waste, the urban infrastructures that were designed to eliminate waste in the name of hygiene and technical efficiency but which are now in crisis, and the range of amateur and DIY urbanisms that are retooling waste in new and innovative ways.

For more information, please contact Anja Schwarz.

debate 2 on the posthuman present

criticalhabitations opens the second debate on: the posthuman present.

Introduced by Alexander Dunst, the debate features contributions by James Burton who returns to the writing of Philip K. Dick to question our understanding of the android and the human and Fabienne Collignon, who takes up Burton’s inquiry into human versus posthuman to seek an escape from the latter’s violence in a poetic inhumanity.