Museum African collections and personal objects of African Slovenes from the time of the non-aligned movement
(Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana)
Paper short abstract:
Yugoslavia's non-aligned policy enabled a variety of connections and exchanges with other non-aligned countries. Slovene Ethnographic Museum staged an exhibition presenting Slovene museum African collections and personal objects of migrants from African countries from that time.
Paper long abstract:
Slovene Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana did a research about various contacts and exchange between Slovenia and several African countries taking place between 1960 and 1990. At the time Slovenia was one of the six republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and contacts with other continents increased due to Yugoslavia's non-aligned policy. In addition to collaboration in economic field and within development projects Yugoslavia enabled students from other non-aligned countries to study at its universities. With the research, the museum wanted to tackle on the one hand, the African collections in the care of museum collected by Slovenes who lived in different African countries, and on the other, personal objects revealing memories, personal experiences and transnational identities of African Slovenes, who came as students and stayed in Slovenia after graduating.
In the presentation I will focus on collaboration with African Slovenes who participated not only in the research process but also in the creation of the exhibition. I will reflect on the participation with emphasis on concepts like epistemic justice, the shared authority of heritage researchers and bearers, and transparency. Democratization of museum practices is a responsibility of museum curators nowadays which includes also careful reconsideration of dilemmas. I will elaborate on the usage of terms community and diaspora, and present identifications of African Slovenes and their feelings of belonging in a post-migrant society, expressed through their choice of personal objects. I argue that an exhibition is a perfect place to discuss the links between material culture and migration.
Museums in transformation: linking places and people through migratory objects