6 June 2019

New Materialism, Object Oriented Ontologies, and Questions of the Colonial.

CLOSED WORKSHOP | 6 June 2019 | 10:00 - 15:00

What possibilities does the so-called material turn hold for ethnographic museums? More nearly, what might we gain from subjecting the complexly entangled, even burdened relations that characterised colonial objects, to  recent schools of thought such as new materialism and object oriented ontology? And conversely, how might these new frameworks look otherwise, on encountering the historically contingent, protracted unequal relations that gave birth to colonial objects?

Recently there has been an increased interest in taking matter seriously, focusing on the intermingling of human and nonhuman agency. This turn to matter-beyond the anthropocentric, at its core is an attempt at subverting dichotomies of the object and the subject, the passive and the active, and at giving a voice to “the missing masses” (Latour, 1992). For some, these schools of thought hold the promise to be able to go beyond ‘identity politics’, opening towards multiplicity. However, these approaches have also been critiqued as being a-political and a-historical, lacking a kind of historical contingency, eschewing theworkings of power in constituting subject and object over time.

But are these simple either or positions? Our interest is to see how to bring these together to think more critically about what to do with ‘colonial things’. This informal interdisciplinary workshop will include a small group of scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and practices on issues related to the material turn and is on invitation only.



Image: H.A. (Hélène Akouavi) Amouzou, Autoportrait, 2010. 7035-7