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XXVI – Museums and Africa (Portugal’s Place in World X)


The Africa we know or hear about today is a narrative created in our colonial past, however spiced up like other narratives constructed in the latter of post-colonial times. In our view of a continent, today we are confronted with the narratives of various African thinkers. Thinkers who think from Africa (from their places of culture) and from the African Diaspora. Let us add the thinkers who think Africa and its inheritances from other latitudes, mainly American (from the north and south) and we have a multiplicity of narrative and interlocutors.
It is not easy to maintain a critical dialogue with this long history where different matrices of the imaginary confront each other. Let us have no illusions about the differences between thinking about Africa from the European continent or the American continent. In addition to these experiences, there is now an African experience of thinking based on their realities.
For example, when we read the apology for “umbutu” as an African philosophy, we are rarely aware that this formalization is nothing more than an appropriation of identity carried out by Christian Protestantism to integrate differences. This does not explain the story but it helps to understand how the differences between looks are constructed. (See Macamo, Elísio (1999). Was ist Afrika? Geschichte und Kultursoziologie eine moderne Konstruktion “)
When we talk about the decolonization of museums, we are talking about the inclusion of the plurality of narratives. Of narratives that portray differences. In this decolonial museology, chronological narratives have to be subject to critical reflection. This is a reflection from the different points of view on the construction of coloniality.
For example, what was the heroic gesture of the Portuguese navigators (more precisely at the service of the Joanine and Manueline courts), even with the so-called contribution of science, there is, on the other side, of the peoples who suffered colonial domination, an unheroic reading , being the opposite of suffering and violence. In other words, keeping the narratives on a chronological basis leads the narratives to tensions and confrontations that are difficult to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction.
For this type of narrative, about relationships between cultures and about diversity, it will be preferable to adopt another point of writing or a narrative line that works on synchrony, which seeks to overcome the guilt and forgiveness that narratives based on memory and forgetfulness they imply, recreating new modes of sociability founded on respect for the dignity of different cultural forms.
That is what is intended with the World Day for Cultural Diversity and Development that is celebrated tomorrow. Which brings us once again to the question of museology in Africa. Especially Portuguese-speaking museology in an African context where, despite the various developments they have had during the last decade, there remains a museology that has made a very weak contribution to the enhancement of the museological experience of African communities, of and of the territories where they operate.
The question that we should then ask is how it will be possible to develop an inclusive museology for diversity in Africa through a narrative in Portuguese language in dialogue with local cultures.
For the challenge of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and development (World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (MAY 21) is seen as another occasion to promote culture and highlight the importance of its diversity as an agent of inclusion and positive change.
It seeks to celebrate the multiple forms of culture, from the tangible and intangible, to the creative industries, the diversity of cultural expressions and reflect on how they contribute to dialogue, mutual understanding and the social, environmental and economic vectors of sustainability. Here the key word is active change and not contemplative observation of narratives from the past.


Por Pedro Pereira Leite

Pedro Pereira Leite:
Guest Professor at Lusophone University where he is a member of the executive board of the UNITWIN Chair of UNESCO "Education, Citizenship and Cultural Diversity" (2018-2022). He has been a professor in the PhD and Master's programs in Museology since 2011. He is currently promoting the installation of the MED Museum of Global Education and Cultural Diversity, a program to include local knowledge and memories to create sustainable communities.
He is Member of the Direction of the International Movement for a New Museology (MINOM / ICOM). Integrates the member bodies of ICOM Portugal (2014 - 2020). He is part of several research networks and has collaborated with the UNESCO School Network and the Educating Cities Network in Portugal. It develops research activity in Portugal, Spain, Brazil and in Mozambique.
It maintains the research book Education, Citizenship and Cultural Diversity (https://globaleduca.hypotheses.org/) and Social Museology and Ecomuseus in Portugal (https://ecomuseus.wordpress.com/)
Contact: pedro.leite@ulusofona.pt / pedropereiraleite@hotmail.com

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