Michael Marten: Framing the Debate. Mission History and the Postcolonial Museum


The development of the museum in Western contexts – simplistically put from (extended) cabinets of curiosities to more organised showcases for promoting knowledge and colonial dominance – is a profoundly politicised movement and was never simply about the “pure” promotion of culture or global art. Indeed, as Edward Said notes: … “we must attempt ... [to] set the art in the global, earthly context. Territory and possessions are at stake, geography and power. Everything about human history is rooted in the earth, which has meant that we must think about habitation, but it has also meant that people have planned to have more territory and therefore must do something about its indigenous residents. At some very basic level, imperialism means thinking about, settling on, controlling land that you do not possess, that is distant, that is lived on and owned by others.”