Decolonizing as a Verb

Decolonizing as a verb: Reinterpreting collections and collecting

In 2020, COMCOL, ICOM-SA and SAMA organized a joint seminar to explore with international guests different concepts and practices of decolonization in the context of collection and collecting.

Looking at the different approaches to decolonization worldwide, the term appears to be subject to different interpretations. Some define it as a process that institutions undergo to expand the perspectives they portray beyond those of the dominant cultural group, particularly white colonizers. Whereas others define it as “at a minimum creating procedures for sharing authority on documentation and interpretation.” The legacies of the colonial are ingrained in the social fabric of today’s society, they are stored in our bodily archives. Therefore, decolonization is not simply a matter of representation or repatriation. It concerns the language we speak, the archives we use, the way we categorize, what we collect, how the building is designed, the way topics and objects are researched and how knowledge is defined and shared.

The two-days seminar was partly recorded: here you can find links to several sessions. You can also download the publication following this link.