Diasporic Objects - Research Center for Material Culture
1 March 2018

Diasporic Objects

Symposium | 1 Mar 2018 | RCMC

From connecting indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest with museum collections to helping migrants build a sense of home, diasporic objects that have migrated from one context to another bear witness to and mediate the ruptures, reforged connections, and cultural negotiations between human groups.  

Diasporic Objects

The aim of this symposium is to understand the important role that diasporic objects play in connecting human groups and individuals. This one-day event will bring together experts from diverse regions and academic fields with the goal of discussing how diasporic objects mediate relations between human groups across different times, territories and cultures.   

The program will combine community scale perspectives, which include discussions on the role that diasporic objects play in museum practices (e.g., connecting communities across the world), as well as individual perspectives that explore how diasporic objects help migrants build a sense of home and belonging in a foreign context. Those speaking on museum practices will discuss how diasporic (colonial) objects help to create, reconfigure and sometimes obstruct communication and collaboration between museums and the ‘source’ communities of their collections. Those examining the relationships between diasporic objects and home-making, will look at the more intimate scenarios in which people engage with diasporic objects in daily practices and personal histories, and how they help mediate complex experiences and constructions of home in the context of migration and displacement.  

Finally, bringing these two scales together, closing discussions will explore the kinds of relations and affective states that various engagements with diasporic objects afford. In turn, how do certain objects and affects challenge or complicate conventional understandings of the museum, of home, of the intimate and communal? 


09:00-09:30   Registration and tea

09:30-10:00   Welcome: Wayne Modest and Laura Osorio

Diasporic objects and museums

10:00-10:45   From Object Diasporas to Museum Affordances.
Paul Basu (Professor of Anthropology, SOAS, UK)

10:45-11:30   Negotiating place, meaning and identity in the Etnographic Museum of the Central Bank of Colombia (Leticia, Amazon). 
Hector Garcia (Gold Museum, Bogotá, Colombia)

11:30-12:15   Diasporic Waka in a Dutch museum: Fostering and Mediating Relationships.
Wonu Veys (Curator of Oceania, National Museum of World Cultures, NL)

Diasporic objects and the construction of home

12:15-13:00   Practices of migrant homing and objects of connection. 
Maja Povrzanovic Frykman (Professor of Ethnology, Mälmo University, SE) 

13:00-14:00   Lunch

14:00-14:45   Reconstructing home. Craft making among Wounaan migrants. 
Laura Osorio (Organizer Museum of Cultural History, Olso/FEL Junior Scholar)

14:45-15:30   Home is where the food is; objects. Longing and belonging.
Pim Westerkamp (Curator of South East Asia, National Museum of World Cultures, NL)

15:30-16:00   Coffee Break

16:00-16:45   Roundtable/’Fishbowl’ discussion.
Leader of the discussion: Wayne Modest

Closing Remarks

Live stream

This symposium was live streamed on our Facebook page and the full live-stream is published on our YouTube channel.