Institute of Archaeology


Only Collections in the Building Podcast 4

10 June 2024

The fourth podcast in the series 'Only Collections in The Building' created by Heba Abd el Gawad and Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp (UCL Institute of Archaeology) is now available.

Four people standing together in front of a glass screen, smiling at the camera

The podcast series 'Only Collections in The Building' created by researcher and museum activist Heba Abd el Gawad, and Associate Professor Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, forms part of the AHRC-funded project Mobilising Collections for Institutional Change: Egypt at the Horniman.

Activists, artists, and indigenous practitioners are being invited to intervene in or disrupt museum spaces with the aim to bring change. But meaningful collaboration relies on much larger structural or professional changes that they rarely have the power to implement.

There is so much talk about museums, decolonisation, and social justice, but very little that is grounded in the day-to-day work of structural change and how it impacts the people who are relied on to implement it. It is in this everyday work that relationships can breakdown. Rather than having a breakdown, Heba and Johanna will ask what it means in practice to put people before collections by sharing their experience of working together on All Eyes on Her!, a community-collaborative exhibition at the Horniman.

This series is produced by Maria Christodoulou, creator of From Root to Vine.

Episode 4: Missed Translations

Egyptian Arabic graffiti which reads “Egypt is the whole story - protect it"

Language is particularly important when we are discussing, working with and interpreting collections. The assumption that everybody can engage equally in a language that is not the one they are most comfortable with, is one that reinscribes inequality. 

In this episode we will reflect on how difficult it can be to disrupt or challenge English-centred work. Johanna and Heba are in conversation with Navjot Mangat, Senior Curator of Social Practice at the Horniman, who shares his multi-lingual curatorial approach for चाय, Tea. We also hear from Dr Mariam Aboelezz, Lecturer in Arabic Translation Studies, at the University of Liverpool. 

Together we will explore why translation and de-centring of English is important, the structural challenges we have faced in projects that have sought to do this, and what better practice might look like.

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