The lives and deaths of an ethnographic museum: history, violence and curatorial collaborations in Guinea-Bissau

Ramon Sarró, Ana Temudo

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Abstract

This article discusses the history of the National Ethnographic Museum of Guinea-Bissau (West Africa), which was created in 1988, but ceased to exist because of the civil war in 1998-99. It also tells the history of a 2017 exhibition about the museum that we curated around a collection of contact prints kept in the National Directorate of Culture of Bissau that we were able to digitally reconstruct, which serendipitously led to the museum’s rebirth. Methodologically, the article illustrates the potential of photography in museum historiography and revitalization. Thematically, it exemplifies the history of museography in West Africa from the mid-1980s through the 1990s, the role of museums in the creation of national heritage, and, by looking at the present situation of the museum at stake, the fragile place that ethnographic museums have in the politics of culture in today’s Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalMuseum and Society
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Ethnographic Museums
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Heritage
  • History
  • Photography

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