Table Topic: Heritage
East Central Europe is largely omitted from current discourses about the heritage of modern colonialism especially in material culture and visual representation – e.g. skulls, photographs, and ethnographic objects. This table considers the multiple problems and strategies that have risen out of ongoing debates and interrogates to what extent have these current conversations been hegemonically predicated on Anglophone or Francophone experiences, to the detriment of other contexts that, though often thought of as alien to the colonial project, were nonetheless intimately implicated in it? How are geographical areas such as East Central Europe handling the imperial entanglements of museum collections, the questions of provenance and restitution, and the future of ethnographic objects? Have the heritage institutions from this area developed different approaches to tackle the imperial past? What role did they play in colonial aspirations and the development of racist theories in the area, and what roles can they adopt in the debates today? And in what ways has the deficit in critical attention to these regions been coopted by neo-nationalist agendas to make exceptionalist claims about colonial history? Expanding the areas of concern beyond the mainstream of discourse, we will discuss alternate frameworks for a self-reflection and rethinking of heritage institutions as historically embedded in political structures, and see how they themselves are productive of politics today.
Afonso Dias Ramos is an Art Histories Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin (2018-19), affiliated with Freie Universität Berlin, currently investigating on-going controversies around colonial-era monuments and artworks across the world. He holds an MA and received his PhD in the History of Art from University College London with a thesis focusing on the relationship between political violence and photography in contemporary art, exploring the recent artistic legacy of the liberation and civil wars in Angola (1961-2002). He previously worked at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon and studied History of Art at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV).
Since 2018, Lara Selin Ertener is a curatorial assistant in the European and Middle Eastern collections at the Museum am Rothenbaum, World Cultures and Arts (MARKK) in Hamburg. Before that, she did her undergraduate in Political Science and Arabic and Islamic Studies and graduated in 2017 with an M.A. in Migration and Diaspora Studies from SOAS, University of London. Her thesis was entitled “Migration on display: (Re)-writing the autobiography of the nation in the Migration Museum Project in London” for which she did field research in the Migration Museum in London, in regard to the museum’s methods of trying to create a new narrative of British national identity that includes diasporic and migratory experiences.