Ancestral remains, repatriation, and contemporary Indigenous Art

Alexandra Roginski will be giving our next seminar on Wednesday 30th October, when she will be speaking on ‘Somatic histories, stolen remains and contemporary Indigenous art in the settler-colonial state’

Alex writes ‘The histories of European researchers, doctors and collectors exhuming and hoarding Indigenous ancestral remains ripple through public memory as some of the greatest transgressions of western knowledge practices. Since the 1960s, Indigenous activists and groups, and (increasingly) the settler state have sought to remediate the material legacies of these practices by campaigning for the repatriation and respectful reburial of ancestral remains still held in historical collections. The symbolic powers of these narratives of bodily desecration resonate through the respective works of Daniel Boyd and Brook Andrew, who hold dual roles in Australian culture as celebrated Indigenous artists and contributors to public memory. As examples of what I call “somatic histories”, many of their works localise stories of past transgressions – together with the lived experience and aspirations of present-day Indigenous Australians – within human remains. In charting connections between historical violence and contemporary Australian life, they ultimately challenge the settler state’s search for symbolic closure’.

Please join us for what will be a fascinating and provocative talk.

Replica of a nineteenth-century phrenological bust produced by the Fowler phrenological empire. The cranial science of phrenology contributed to a flurry of skull collecting during the long nineteenth century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: Wednesday 30 October, 2019
Time: 5pm – 6pm
Venue: Deakin Downtown, 727 Collins St, Tower 2, Level 12

Free of charge, all welcome.

For further information: contact Steve Cooke (Steven.cooke@deakin.edu.au) 

Venue Tip: Deakin’s city centre campus is a short walk from Southern Cross Station towards Docklands and on part of the free city centre tram network (Stop D15 on routes 11 and 48).  Entry is via Tower Two.  The reception desk directs you to an escalator to a bank

Edgy heritages: the Forcefields of Europe

Chris Whitehead will be discussing ‘Edgy heritage’ in our cultural heritage seminar on Wednesday 28th August.  Chris writes: ‘What does Europe look like from its edges? What kinds of heritage do we find there? Edge places are geopolitical, affective and symbolic zonings in struggles to determine what is what (e.g. ‘Europe’), where it is, who can belong there and where it is heading.

‘It is almost an adage that we best understand the centre by attending to the periphery, or that work on the boundaries of a thing is necessarily a determination of the thing itself. Edgy connotes relationships that may be tense, nervous, and/or bold, provocative or volatile.  Drawing on examples from Gallipoli, Ireland, Berlin and Andalusia, Chis argues that they turn out to be sites of discrepancy and cultural dissonance that test the very nature of ‘Europe’ as a geopolitical reality, as a discursive formation, as marker of identity and as a moral ground. These spaces of cultural confusion, hybrid histories and geopolitical contingencies prompt us to rethink the meanings of Europe at a time when its backstory is both politicised and contested’.

Chris is Professor of Museology at Newcastle University (UK) and Professor II in Cultural Heritage Studies at the University of Oslo (Norway). He is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University. He has written on museum history, art interpretation, migration museums, communities and co-production, knowledge construction, museum display and the politics of heritage and memory. His latest book is Dimensions of Heritage and Memory: multiple Europes and the politics of crisis (Routledge 2019), resulting from the large-scale EU-funded CoHERE project that he led from 2015 until 2019. He is co-director of the Newcastle University Centre of Research Excellence in Heritage.

For those of you who want a preview of Chris, he gave an excellent presentation for International Museum Day 2017 on ‘Museums and Contested Stories – saying the unspeakable in museums’.

 

Date: Wednesday 28 August, 2019
Time: 5pm – 6pm
Venue: Deakin Downtown, 727 Collins St, Tower 2, Level 12

Free of charge, all welcome.

For further information: contact Beatrice Harris harrisbe@deakin.edu.au

Venue Tip: Deakin’s city centre campus is a short walk from Southern Cross Station towards Docklands and on part of the free city centre tram network (Stop D15 on routes 11 and 48).  Entry is via Tower Two.  The reception desk directs via an escalator to a bank of lifts and Deakin Downtown is on Level 12.

‘Part of the team’

Master of Cultural Heritage student Ellina Evans recently completed an internship at the Gold Museum, Ballarat.

This winter I was selected to take part in a curatorial internship at the Gold Museum, Sovereign Hill, as part of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry internship program. I would be travelling from Hobart to Ballarat to work for three weeks under the guidance of curator, Snjez Cosic.

Learning into Practice at the Gold Museum

Studying online from interstate can limit the opportunities available to get hands-on, practical experience and to make contacts and forge relationships with people in the industry, both of which are essential to future employability. The opportunity to participate in a paid internship has been invaluable.

Getting started, my first question was: what does a curator do exactly? In the context of a regional museum, Snjez explained, the answer is a bit of everything. My experience over the next three weeks gave me insight into the dizzyingly varied tasks a curator at a small museum performs each day.

My first task was to clean seven framed nineteenth century photomontages in preparation for the coming exhibition. Collections Manager Liz Marsden showed me how to gently brush, sponge and swab away dirt and grime from their surfaces. I was then tasked with researching and writing exhibition text about some intriguing figures from gold rush Ballarat. A whole cast of characters came to light, from the female mining magnate, Madame Midas, to the transgender miner, Edward De Lacy Evans, to the self-made Tinworths. Snjez taught me the brutal art of telling each of their stories in no more than 150 words.

 

Other highlights included: assisting with the deinstallation of the Wonderful Things exhibition, surveying visitors, creating an Instagram story for the New Gold Mountain display, being present at an acquisitions meeting and, above all, talking to my knowledgeable colleagues.

I’d like to whole-heartedly thank all the staff at the Gold Museum for this invaluable experience and for making me feel like part of the team. I’d also like to thank Deakin University for their support.

Ellina Evans, Master of Cultural Heritage student, Deakin University.

Deakin University would also like to thank everyone at the Gold Museum and Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for continuing to provide such amazing experiences for our students – its very valuable and very much appreciated.