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Dialogue forum with Peggy Piesche: „The (non)presence of whiteness in the museum“, Friday, 6 December 2013, 7 pm, August-Bebel-Institut

On Friday, 6 December 2013 at 7 pm AfricAvenir invites you in the course of the event series ‚decolonial objections against the Humboldt-Forum’ to a dialogue forum with the expert in literature and cultural studies Peggy Piesche. With the title ‘the (non)presence of whiteness in the museum’ she will expose the role of European museums in framing colonial racist views. While the Humbodt-Forum emerging in the center of Berlin should be a museum which teaches ‘knowledge of the world’, this forum discusses the question of how Germany’s culture can be decolonized.

The until then presented conceptions of the exhibition in the reconstructed Berlin Castle relate to the recourse of the “chamber of marvels” in which “rarities” and “obscurities” were collected and exhibited. These collections developed in the royal buildings in early modernity. They did not only serve to represent royal power and international standing but they also formed the basis for a science set out to understand and represent the universe. The institutions involved in the planning process claim nowadays that the Humboldt-Forum should “pick up on these functions of the old castle and in a modern sense develop them further”.

But these museum conceptions are highly controversial. These museums were not only as public treasure chests of imperial accomplices of power but especially science was actively engaged in the formalization of the colonial view of the ‘other’. Non-Europeans are shown as static objects without a history. Thus, they are pushed into the role of amateurs or affected persons. Meanwhile, the white German museum visitor should consider himself as explorer in these rooms and the many art and culture artifacts are at his disposal for free contemplation. In order to avoid this way of knowledge production and transfer, one has to critically question the form of the museum and the ways in which the objects are presented. Thereby it is crucial to pay attention to the fact of who is telling his story and to whom is the story addressed. 

Peggy Piesche analyzed the formalization of racialized subjects in many publications, articles and lectures. She exposed how the development of a white normality in the differentiation to the black ‘otherness’ functioned as a powerful instrument maginalizing and neglecting migrant and black subjectivities. During this forum she will show which role museums play in this process until today and thus define the critical horizon for a decolonized German culture.

Peggy Piesche is an Afro-German expert in literature and cultural studies born and raised in the RDD. She publicized about racialization and black images, colonial history and collective memory. Piesche published amongst others “Myths, masks and subjects. Critical research on being white in Germany”. Since July 2013 she teaches at the Academy of Advanced African Studies at the University of Bayreuth with a research focus on Future Africa and Digital Diaspora.

Friday, 6 December
7 pm
August-Bebel-Institut

Müllerstr.163
13353 Berlin
S/U Wedding (Ringbahn, U6, Bus 120)

The event is part of the No Humbodt 21! campaign
More information: no-humboldt21.de

In cooperation with the August-Bebel-Institut, ISD and Adefra.

With the friendly support of the county office for international cooperation Berlin.

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