Two Accounts of Time: The Africa Room at the British Museum

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Abstract

How might the British Museum engage in the presentation of artefacts collected during British colonial rule? This article analyses of the current exhibition display in the African Room at the British museum in the context of Walter Mignolo's articulation of decolonising. It argues that the current display is still governed by the museum's earlier displays and thus by Kant's two accounts of time. Hence, the organisation of the exhibition is anthropological: presenting the artefacts as primitive and traditional. However, a closer look shows that this display applies only to works produced under colonialism. It does not apply to earlier works or later works. Hence, whilst the display does not explicitly attempt to decolonise its own narrative as Mignolo advocates, it nevertheless plays a role in the process of decolonising its own narrative and potentially open up future possible narratives of how it might address the violence of colonialism and its aftermath.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

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