Cross-Cultural Negotiations: Three Collections of African Visual and Material Culture in Canadian Cultural Institutions
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In recent years, revisionism in Canadian museums has created a space for the development of different ways of classifying and representing non-Western visual and material culture. Despite these changes, many mainstream or authoritative museums and other cultural institutions still operate largely as separate from the constituent communities to which the non-Western collections in their possession are directly related. This thesis investigates the complex relationship between three different types of collections of African visual and material culture in Canada, the institutions in which they reside, and the relationship to the constituent communities that have a stake in the reception of these collections. These collections include the ethnographic collection of African artifacts at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Lang Collection of African Art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, and the African cultural collection at the North American Black Historical Museum and Cultural Centre in Amherstburg. As this thesis makes clear, the very nature of incorporating, classifying and displaying African visual and material culture in Western museums, which are a direct product of the colonial era, is fraught with contentions. In light of this, the growth in cultural centres in Canada in recent years has the potential to inform mainstream museums, offering new ways of approaching and engaging with not only non-Western objects, but also their diverse constituent communities. By focusing on the discourse of museum representation in relation to African collections in Canada, this thesis posits that these collections can be understood as crucial sites for the promotion of cross-cultural negotiations between African and non-African Canadian communities.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/7704
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