In Switzerland, too, museums are increasingly addressing the question of how they can "decolonise" their collections, history, and narratives. Parallel—but all too often unconnected— to these efforts, numerous studies have shown in the last 10 to 20 years or so, how Switzerland as a social, cultural, and economic space became part of a European imperial expansion overseas from the 16th century onwards and was permanently shaped by this process.
While there is a growing awareness that more just futures can only be achieved through a critical engagement with the colonial past and its continuities, the practical questions of whether it is even possible to decolonise institutions, and if so, how this should be done, are the subject of controversial debates. Moreover, efforts and debates in Europe and elsewhere have so far remained somewhat disconnected.
This conference, therefore, seeks to provide a forum for scholars, museum practitioners, and artists to take stock of what has been done so far in Switzerland, and to learn from each other's experiences. On this basis, the conference also seeks to provide a platform to reflect on how to coordinate efforts within Switzerland and across the border in the future.
The conference is part of a series of conferences to take place in 2022 and 2023 at the Centre d'histoire international et d'études politiques de la mondialisation (CRHIM) of the University of Lausanne. This conference series seeks to take up a question that activists and scholars have been voicing for several years, but that has gained more political urgency through the BLM moment in 2020, and the beginning of a process of restituting looted art to African countries by France in 2021. It is the question of how prepared European countries are to face their long suppressed colonial pasts and thereby become more credible partners in building more just global futures.
Ready for the past? On the State of Decolonization in Swiss Museums opens a cycle of conferences that aim to reflect on the topic of decolonization of institutions and spaces in Switzerland. It will begin with a round table and panels dealing with the highly topical and often controversial issues of decolonization of museums. Subsequent conferences will be dedicated to primary and secondary schools, journalism, higher education, and politics.
To join in, please register with firstname.lastname@example.org