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Against the backdrop of the current debate revolving around the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, dealing with ethnological collections in science and society has become a controversial subject, as the history of ethnological museums is inseparably linked to Eurocentrism and colonialism.
Criticism of ethnological museums is not new, but it has not yet translated into the exhibition practice accordingly - dominant narratives have consistently been reproduced. Post-colonial criticism of museums is not only levelled against the appropriation and submission of bodies and objects of other cultures, but already starts at the epistemological concepts on which the museum as an institution is founded.
How can museums encounter this past? Can the transformation of a colonial institution into a space for post-colonial discourse be successful? What are the challenges at the interface of ethnological museums and art?
MA Regina Wonisch is a historian, museologist and self-employed exhibition curator. She lives and works in Vienna.
She is employed by the Institute of Scientific Communication and University Research at the Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt (Vienna branch) and is Director of the Research Centre for Historical Minorities in Vienna.