Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Should've Had One

I'm always pretty uncomfortable looking at displays of indigenous artefacts in museums. Unless the collection was curated by the people in question who also have full rights to all the items (which, I don't think I've ever encountered and I am a museum junkie), I just feel like I'm gawking at the end result of a dispossessed diaspora. Not cool.

The display I was at the other week was no exception. To add insult to injury, the places of origin on the labels accompanying each item had names like "New Ireland" and "New Britain" - clearly not what the people who actually lived there called the land.

I mention this to my partner (who very early on in our relationship proudly showed me a picture of his fairly recent forebearers as colonists in India) and he deadpans,
"Well, it's their fault - they didn't have a flag."
And sure enough, I look around and that is exactly what is missing from the display of frankly every other object that could conceivably be found within a community of people.

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