does it mean to rebuild a Prussian base of power, name it after the
brothers Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, fashion it as the world
centre for culture and cultural dialogue housing works from the
Ethnological Museum of Berlin and the Museum of Asian Art? Did this
provoke the choking? How did these arts and artefacts, objects and
subjects get into these collections in the first place? What does it
mean to have one of the founding directors, Horst Bredekamp, claim
openly—as one could hear in Lorenz Rollhäuser’s “House of White Men: Humboldt Forum, Shared
Heritage and Dealing with the Other”— that unlike other European
cities like London, Brussels or Paris, Berlin did not collect
As the debates surrounding the legitimacy of the so-called objects
from Africa, Asia, Oceania and from Native American cultures in
Western museums get louder, and as the pressure to repatriate them to
their places of origin intensifies, some museum directors have sought
to come up with smart-ass concepts that might make one misunderstand
Marley as having sung, “Don’t let them fool ya / Or even try to
screw ya!” instead of “school ya!”. Again, it seems there is a
thin line between ‘schooling’ and ‘screwing’. The reasons
given by the colonialists to set up the colonial enterprise around
the world was often related to setting up or instituting a universal
knowledge, which was synonymous with Western epistemology. The excuse
was to bring civilisation to the uncivilised. To liberate them from
savagery. To free them from false gods and introduce them to the one
and only jealous God with a capital G. While the colonial soldiers,
merchants and priests paved their ways on these missions, telling
people to give up their false gods, others like Felix von Luschan
were loitering in the metropole waiting for the seized and stolen
‘goods’ to be sent over. The schooling in the Western
epistemology came hand in hand with a screwing of Indigenous
knowledge and ways of being.
is thus no wonder that as the air gets tighter people like Hermann
Parzinger have come up with ‘wonderful’ concepts like ‘shared
heritage’. In his by now notorious 2016 ‘manifesto’, “Shared
Heritage Is a Double Heritage” (…)
then take a look at Parzinger’s concept of ‘shared heritage’
through a detour into a few key points from his manifesto-like text.
First of all, he writes:
manage the cultural assets of humanity together. So we should also
share them with the nations that we once subjugated as colonies.
it is well intentioned to share the cultural assets at hand with the
former colonised, the first question that arises is: Who gives you
the mandate to manage the cultural assets of humanity? What does it
mean to talk about the cultural assets of humanity that your nation
once took from people who at the time were not even considered human?
How is this sharing supposed to happen and under which power
dynamics? Are nation states the right mediation or communication
partners in such a venture?
Excerpts taken from Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung Performative Essay titled: South remembers: Those Who Are Dead Are Not Ever Gone.
The full text can be seen here and the performance here.