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The five-part podcast series Feminisms in the Museum explores different currents and schools of feminist thought, and aims to expand feminist perspectives on museum activities and experiences.

Throughout the serieshost Jena Samura is joined by various artists, scholars and museum professionals who take a look at what feminism means to them and how feminist activism and thought shape the way they think about, and work with, museums.

From the museum entrance to its archives, from the programming of community projects to the stewarding of colonial collections, we ask: What would a feminist museum look like? How would it feel? How would it be designed and organized in its space and its structures? And what would its purpose be?

Our speakers are: Françoise Vergès, Celia Herrera Rodríguez, Emelie Chhangur, Poulomi Basu and Va-Bene Fiatsi.

Due to feminism being, of course, a very wide topic, this series does not aim to be comprehensive — we will not cover feminism in all its different waves, interpretations, goals, strategies, and affiliations. Instead, Feminisms in the Museum aspires to share a variety of voices and perspectives that can broaden understanding of feminist thought, sharpen critical approaches to museum practice and inspire new models of knowledge sharing, storytelling, welcome and care.

Decolonial Feminism and Moving Beyond the Object

with Françoise Vergès

For the opening of this series, we are joined by Françoise Vergès, political scientist, writer, activist, and curator, who introduces us to decolonial feminism. Drawing on Françoise’s powerful manifesto “A Decolonial Feminism”, we explore how this framework can help us examine “white” or “civilizing” feminism’s blind spots, and complicity in enslavement, colonisation and racial capitalism. We discuss the importance of – and possible limitations to – an intersectional analysis of oppression and consider the perspectives that might be revealed by a multidimensional approach. Furthermore, by asking who cleans the world around us, Françoise encourages us to reflect on cleaning as essential labour to the functioning of the state, public institutions and infrastructure, and to consider the invisibility of those who do cleaning work – the majority marginalised and racialised women. Finally, we hear about Françoise’s own experience developing a “post museum” on Réunion island and discuss how decolonial feminism might reshape museum design and practice, encouraging us to move beyond objects, facilitate access to collections, think beyond big institutions in capital cities and ensure that different bodies and different ways of being all feel welcome in this public space.

Chicana Integrity and Coming to Consciousness

with Celia Herrera Rodríguez

Together with artist and educator Celia Herrera Rodríguez, we dive into Chicana feminism. As Celia recalls her upbringing between Mexico and the United States, we explore how the Chicana feminist movement first emerged in the 1960s and how it encourages the unlearning of colonial and patriarchal constructions of, and restrictions on, women. Celia also tells us how the Chicana movement helped her in finding her voice and shaping her feminism. Besides, we learn about central aspects of Chicana feminism, including in-betweenness, cultural hybridity, ambiguity and resilience. We discuss the movement’s relationship to images and image-making, including the symbolism and reimagination of Mexican female figures and icons like La Llorona or La Virgen de Guadalupe. Celia shares how her own artistic practice incorporates Chicana themes and reflects on key figures and influences in the movement, such as Gloria Anzaldúa. Lastly, we hear about the ways in which Chicana feminist art has begun to occupy public and museum spaces and the necessity of transforming these spaces to accommodate Chicana time, materials and self-determination.

Creating a “Yes” Institution

with Emelie Chhangur

In this episode, we welcome Emelie Chhangur, director and curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. We learn how Emelie approaches the museum’s dual mandate as a public institution and pedagogical resource and how she has developed her experimental and participatory curatorial practice, including several feminist and decolonising initiatives. We explore in particular her concept of “in-reach”, which aims to transform institutions from within and to mobilise new kinds of relationships with surrounding communities. We also discuss Emelie’s development of a major expansion and renovation project at the Agnes and consider how new museum architectures can allow new stories, care practices and social imaginaries to emerge. Finally, as we reflect on the important distinction between access and trust, we ask how the museum can ensure space for Indigenous self-determination and become a home for entities, practices and temporalities that are, from Indigenous worldview, alive and breathing.

Ecofeminism and Embodied Art Practice

with Poulomi Basu

In this episode, our guest is Poulomi Basu, a Kolkata-born and London-based artist who works at the intersection of art, activism, and technology – often inspired by ecofeminism. Together, we look at the interconnectedness of racial, gender and ecological issues experienced by women in the Global South and ask how women might embrace and transcend traditional gender roles in advocating for the planet. We explore the radical potential of care in forging solidarity and resistance and reflect on the importance of coalition building beyond the single artist or institution. Finally, we consider new ways of storytelling, such as virtual reality, and discuss how these immersive, embodied experiences can help to urge social, environmental and political change.

Queer Feminist Journeys

with Va-Bene Fiatsi

For this episode, we are joined by Va-Bene Fiatsi, curator, mentor, artistic director, and self-described “artivist” based in Kumasi, Ghana. Also known as crazinisT artisT, Va-Bene tells us about her artistic investigation of gender stereotypes, identity politics and anti-black as well as anti-queer violence, and how she uses performance and installation to bring these themes into public institutions and spaces. We hear how Va-Bene’s experiences as a trans woman inform her practice and learn how she foregrounds her own body in her work to push institutional boundaries and confront prejudice and marginalization, while exploring her own vulnerability and emotions. With a portfolio of performances around the globe, Va-Bene discusses how she navigates different contexts and histories, and also comments on what it is like to work in a climate of intensifying LGBTQ+ violence and discrimination in Ghana, with an anti-LGBTQ+ bill currently making its way through Ghanaian parliament.


Feminisms in the Museum is written and produced by Eliza Apperly and Alondra Meier. Sound design and editing by Benjamin Nash, Nora Mihle, Annelien Van Heymbeeck and Andreas König. Artwork by Diana Ejaita. Project curation by Michael Dieminger. Project management by Selina McKay.

This podcast is part of the Humboldt Forum’s 99 Questions programme, which emphasizes a plurality and exchange of knowledge, collective learning, and diversifying museum practices and experiences.

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