The Council of ICCROM has decided to dedicate the Thematic Discussion during the ICCROM 31st General Assembly of 2019 to “Decolonizing Heritage”.
Initially, decolonization referred to the process that former colonies underwent to free themselves of the colonial supremacy. Today the term has become much more than that: a philosophical, moral, social, spiritual and also activist call that points to the fact that we are still subject to the ideology of colonialism.
Decolonizing is about questioning our institutions: how and why are some forms of knowledge given priority and authority over others? How do we organize and categorize knowledge? Who determines the selection and quality criteria of collections? Who decides what is presented and represented?
Decolonizing is about difficult conversations and reflections on the meaning of cultural institutions and who these institutions are intended to serve. It is about open and true dialogue with all members of communities and society, it is about sharing power and authority.
Decolonizing is about cultural institutions becoming learning communities. About the necessity to create room for multiple perspectives showing the different contexts that determine how we look at objects or themes.
Four invited speakers, Dr. Wayne Modest, Prof. Shahid Vawda, Ms. Puawai Cairns and Dr. Sarah Pash, will present their views on these challenges, and how communities and other stakeholders can work together to confront historic injustices and ongoing inequalities, and promote the emergence of decolonial heritage practices.