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History and memory of colonialism and slavery in museums: institutions, agents and practices around sensitive issues

Grant number: 19/10036-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2019
Effective date (End): February 08, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Modern and Contemporary History
Principal Investigator:Maria Cristina Cortez Wissenbach
Grantee:David William Aparecido Ribeiro
Supervisor: Jacky Maniacky
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale (MRAC), Belgium  
Associated to the scholarship:17/19781-3 - Heritage, memory and narratives of Afro-Brazilian and indigenous history: relations between cultural policies and knowledge production in the contemporary Brazil, BP.DR


The current debate on the repatriation of cultural goods plundered in the context of European colonialism and that make up the collection of its most relevant museums, meets the problems analyzed by the doctoral research in progress, regarding the role played by museology and patrimonial policies in the support of narratives on African and Amerindian peoples, raising fundamental questions about how these institutions are dealing with this past and proposing solutions for dealing with sensitive issues. Outstanding symbol of this process, the Royal Museum for Central Africa (1898), which houses one of the largest collections constituted under the sign of Belgian colonial violence, has drawn important reflections on this and how to requalify the museological narrative. Closed in 2013 to reshape itself, it was reopened in 2018, attracting great attention from the museum community, interested in the strategies adopted to build a critical narrative. In a parallel process, new museums have been organized and founded at the beginning of the 21st century with the proposal to discuss the colonial and slave legacies with the societies in which they are inserted. One of them is the International Slavery Museum, which opened in 2007 in the Liverpool port area - a place that played a significant role in the network that sustained this crime against Humanity - and plays a relevant role in scientific production and social mobilization. Through the analysis of the way these institutions operate, identifying the agents, practices and networks they mobilize, as well as the narratives they seek to communicate, this research internship abroad aims to find ways to deal with sensitive historical themes in the public space, fomenting a mandatory discussion to overcome the diverse legacies of slavery and colonialism. (AU)

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