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What constitutes postcolonial provenance research in collections from colonial contexts? What perspectives open up beyond the mere reconstruction of chains of provenance?

Provenance research sheds light on the origins and paths traveled, as well as on the relationship histories of objects in museum collections. Postcolonial provenance research particularly focuses on the effects of the appropriation of objects from colonial contexts. It is concerned with far more than just the reconstruction of property relationships and chains of ownership. Postcolonial provenance research involves working in close cooperation and in an open process with people from the regions of origin, in order to investigate the historical and contemporary meanings and functions of the objects.

The second event in the 99 Questions series spans from the challenges and results of provenance research, through the implications for museums, to artistic approaches in practice. What actually constitutes postcolonial provenance research? What perspectives open up beyond the mere reconstruction of chains of provenance? And can provenance research contribute to the decolonisation of the collection, or does cooperative provenance research also run the risk of reproducing colonially based views, classifications, and forms of knowledge, ultimately serving as a mere fig leaf?

 

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