2015 Edition

Stolen Memories: Museums, Slavery, and (De)Coloniality

Middelburg Decolonial Summer Course
University College Roosevelt
Tuesday June 30th – Thursday July 16th 2015

Museums and Universities are two fundamental institutional formations of modernity/coloniality. They are at the same time holders of coloniality of knowledge and the makers of modern/colonial subjectivities. Ethnographic museums served to store the stolen memories of the colonized while Art History and Fine Arts Museums served to build on the memories and achievements of Europe and Western Civilization.
The Tropen Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin are paramount institutions of stolen memories. While the British Museum and Le Louvre combine both, stolen and proper memories. Under what historical conditions museums emerged as constitutive institutions of Western Civilization? Who built them? How, when and why did the distinction between ¨art¨ and ¨ethnographic¨ museums come to be? What are the purposes of the difference between ethnographic and fine art museums?
Today such distinction is being contested in two directions. On the one hand, by building museums, in the Western as well as non-Western world, devoted to retrieve stolen memories and to heal the wounds of the negated and denied ways of living and being in the world. The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool and the National Museum of American Indians in Washington DC are two inviting reflections and actions toward decolonizing knowledge and subjectivities. On the other hand, emerging economies in the Arab Gulf as well as Singapore are, through the institutional figure of the museum, restoring histories that Western modernity disregarded. The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha and the Museum of Asian Civilizations in Singapore, are two cases of dewesternization.
The 2015 edition of the Decolonial Summer School in the Netherlands will be devoted to explore how institutions like the museums in tandem with the universities have functioned for the consolidation of Western modernity and European imperial expansion by disdaining other civilizational trajectories. The course will also explore emerging projects of decolonizing and re- orienting the goals of ethnographic museums as well as building non-Western Civilizational museums. Both trajectories complement themselves in the task of restoring dignity and plurality through the re-emergence of stolen memories.

Public Events

The legacies of enslavement and the urgent questions of our time                      Jean Casimir  and Walter Mignolo
July 10 2015 Decolonizing the University Symposium
University College Roosevelt, Middelburg, The Netherlands
Organized by Patricia Schor, Olivier Kramsch, Daniel Mandur Thomaz, and Rolando Vázquez. This day-long symposium enabled reflection on the mechanisms of coloniality inscribed in the university. Through feminist, aesthetic and political practices we seek to open alternatives paths towards a decolonial way of living the university. The event is part of a broader, intellectual and political project that crosses the boundaries of academic scholarship, institution building and activism. The event aims to provide a space of exchange based on analytical diagnosis and personal experience.  Speakers will be invited to address critical questions related to their scholarly as well as activist positionalities. The discussions that will follow each panel will be geared towards the pursuit of strategies of awareness, resistance and change.
10.45-11.00        Arrival
11:00-11:15        Opening: Patricia Schor and Rolando Vázquez
11:15.-12.45       Panel 1: Coloniality & the university
Walter Mignolo, Virginie Mamadouh, Soraya Brower, and Dustin Gordon                       
Moderator: Rolando Vázquez
12.45-14:15        Lunch break
14:15-15.45        Panel 2: The Political Role of the Decolonial University
Noa Ha, Ovidiu Tichindeleanu, Heli Guido, and student Decolonial Summer School     
Moderator: Daniel Mandur Thomaz
15:45-17.15        Panel 3: The role of the decolonial public intellectual
Arzu Merali, Egbert Alejandro Martina, Patricia Schor, and Kolar Aparna                       
Moderator: Olivier Kramsch
Coffee break
17.30-18.00        Building Intersectional Decolonial Alliances — Olivier Kramsch and Daniel Mandur Thomaz