Article | National museums in a global world. NaMu III; Department of culture studies and oriental languages; University of Oslo; Norway; 19-21 November 2007 | Who is “the Other” Now?: Mediation of History in Multi-Cultural South Africa and Scandinavia of Today

Title:
Who is “the Other” Now?: Mediation of History in Multi-Cultural South Africa and Scandinavia of Today
Author:
Cecilia Axelsson: Department of History, School of Humanities, Växjö University, Sweden
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Full text (pdf)
Year:
2007
Conference:
National museums in a global world. NaMu III; Department of culture studies and oriental languages; University of Oslo; Norway; 19-21 November 2007
Issue:
031
Article no.:
008
Pages:
91-99
No. of pages:
9
Publication type:
Abstract and Fulltext
Published:
2008-07-16
Series:
Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings
ISSN (print):
1650-3686
ISSN (online):
1650-3740
Publisher:
Linköping University Electronic Press; Linköpings universitet


The purpose of this paper is to discuss how some museums in South Africa and Scandinavia address the task of being part of a “new” multi-cultural society; and what happens to the narrative roles of “Us” and the “Others” in museum mediation of history today. In South Africa; 14 years after the transition from apartheid to democratic policies; old museums are struggling with their identity; with their legacy and with their collections. Some museums make a powerful effort to help people regain a space and a voice in the present by accentuating the presence in the past. This makes for interesting discussions on identity; national heritage and the mediation of history in a multi-cultural society. Who was “the Other” that was not represented before and who is “the Other” today; for example in the mediation of history in a place like the Robben Island Museum; celebrating the liberation struggle with an inclusive approach but also with a very distinct cast of actors; those good and those bad – “Us” and “the Others”?

From 2005 to 2008 the exhibition Kongospår – Traces of the Congo – has opened its doors in national museums in Scandinavia and Finland. This exhibition’s starting point is “Why are there so many artefacts from the Congo in our collections and why are there so many traces of the Congo in Scandinavia?” It is a reflective exhibition that tries to problematize colonialism and the presence of the whites – the Scandinavians – in the history of the Congo. What is interesting is that in problematizing the gaze of the past upon “the Others” – the people of the Congo – the exhibition can also be interpreted as critically problematizing the notion of “Us” in the past. Who were the “We” who thought that we had the right to exploit the Africans or saw it as “our” mission to civilize “the Other”? But in distancing ourselves from the exploiters and colonizers of the past; and in a multi-cultural and inclusive society of today; who is allotted the narrative roles of “Us” and “the Other” – Who is “the Other” now?

National museums in a global world. NaMu III; Department of culture studies and oriental languages; University of Oslo; Norway; 19-21 November 2007

Author:
Cecilia Axelsson
Title:
Who is “the Other” Now?: Mediation of History in Multi-Cultural South Africa and Scandinavia of Today
References:

Ajagán-Lester; Luis. 2000. “De Andra.” Afrikaner i svenska pedagogiska texter (1768–1965). Högskoleförlaget vid Lärarhögskolan i Stockholm; Stockholm.


Axelsson; Cecilia. 2007. “Exploring the museum – a comprehensive approach” Linköping University Electronic Conference Proceedings http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp/022/022/ (2008-04-30)


Azar; Michael. 2006. “Det symboliska objektet” in Den koloniala bumerangen. Från schibbolet till körkort i svenskhet. Brutus Östlings bokförlag Symposion; Stockholm/Stehag.


Coombes; Annie E. 2003. History After Apartheid. Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa. Duke University Press; Durham and London.


Hall; Janet. 1995. “Museums; myths and missionaries: redressing the past for a new South Africa.” In Museum ; media; message. Eilian Hooper-Greenhill (ed.); Routledge; London and New York.

National museums in a global world. NaMu III; Department of culture studies and oriental languages; University of Oslo; Norway; 19-21 November 2007

Author:
Cecilia Axelsson
Title:
Who is “the Other” Now?: Mediation of History in Multi-Cultural South Africa and Scandinavia of Today
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