Museums stage objects as testimonies of specific narratives. How do these museum things articulate the global order and supplant alternative narratives? What meanings do they adopt in the context of the dynamics of globalization and decolonization? At one of the last events at the Dahlem location of the Ethnologische Museum, Arjun Appadurai, Tony Bennett and Sharon Macdonald will explore the “thing”: its subtexts, its tenacity and its political dimension.
Using selected objects from the collections, three experts probe the narrative styles of “things.” Arjun Appadurai, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, examines the migration of things and asks how they become legible as bearers of aesthetic knowledge. Tony Bennett, Research Professor in Social and Cultural Theory at Western Sydney University, presents the evolution of seeing in museums and the fixation on the viewer’s perspective. The cultural anthropologist Sharon Macdonald, Alexander von Humboldt Professor at the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität, combines the two theoretical approaches with the latest developments in Berlin’s museum landscape. How do things become signifiers in the museum space? How do societies handle problematic aspects of cultural heritage? What processes of learning and unlearning are necessary in order to decipher hegemonic narratives and geopolitics?