Refiguring the Geopolitics of the Museum Cabinet

Start: Oct 31, 2012 05:00 PM

Location: Room 412, Institute of Archaeology

Post-Imperial Ecologies of Nation, Art, Affect and Culture

The fifth seminar in the series on 'New Approaches to the Past: Methodological Innovations in Heritage Research' organised by the Heritage Studies Section and Centre for Museums, Heritage and Material Culture Studies will take place at the Institute on 31 October.

Divya Tolia-Kelly (Durham University) will give a seminar entitled 'Refiguring the Geopolitics of the Museum Cabinet: Doing Post-Imperial Ecologies of Nation, Art, Affect and Culture' and all are welcome.


The dominant ways of linking text, artefact, materials and peoples will reflect a notion of 'national' culture and art experienced at the museum and its exhibitionary practices. This paper examines the effect of Imperial taxonomies of culture on the exhibition of Maori culture and artefacts in the British Museum. By narrating the ways in which Maori national culture has been exhibited, the paper will work through the grammars, affects, textures and the geopolitics of museum display informed by Imperial values of world cultures.

Based on my research with Maori artists Rosanna Raymond and  Kahutoi Te Kanawa, a critique of the exhibitionary practices are made. By considering the cabinet as a framing mechanism for the naturalising of Imperial values and thier taxonomies of race and culture. Delimiting cultural, intellectual, affective and political capacities of Maori is the effect of the textures, grammars and rhythms of National museum displays. What could/does a counter-geopolitics of art, culture and nation look like when determined by the post-colonial artist? Ecologies of citizenship are at the heart of an emergent logic of curatorial practice which seeks to self-determine both representations and cultural taxonomies which fix 'other', 'Maori' and 'national art'. This notion of ecological citizen is presented as political alternative to citizen of 'nation' within Imperial accounts of national culture.