L'herbier des Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques et ses quelque six millions d’échantillons est un des plus importants au monde. Quant au jardin, il abrite de magnifiques collections de plantes vivantes.

Site internet des Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques

L'herbier des Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques et ses quelque six millions d’échantillons est un des plus importants au monde. Quant au jardin, il abrite de magnifiques collections de plantes vivantes.

Site internet des Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques

Ouverte en 2009, la Médiathèque du FMAC a pour objectif l’encouragement et la diffusion de l’art vidéo à Genève. Elle réunit le Fonds André Iten, l’une des plus riches et importantes collections vidéo de Suisse, ainsi que la collection vidéo du FMAC.

Site internet du Fonds municipal d’art contemporain

Avec une collection riche de 25'000 objets illustrant douze siècles de culture céramique, le Musée Ariana compte parmi les grands musées européens spécialisés dans les arts du feu.

Site internet du Musée Ariana

Les Musées d’art et d’histoire forment le plus grand ensemble muséal de Suisse, avec ses cinq musées et leurs 700'000 objets, sa bibliothèque, son laboratoire de recherche et ses ateliers de restauration.

Site internet des Musées d'art et d'histoire

Haut lieu de la réflexion sur les sociétés humaines, le Musée d'ethnographie de Genève, dont les bâtiments se trouvent au boulevard Carl-Vogt propose au travers de ses expositions une variété de lectures anthropologiques des phénomènes sociaux et culturels qui traversent le monde actuel.

Site internet du Musée d'ethnographie

Le Musée d’histoire naturelle accueille plus de 250'000 visiteurs chaque année à la découverte des millions de spécimens exceptionnels appartenant au patrimoine naturel qu'il conserve. Unique en son genre en Suisse, le Musée d'histoire des sciences - affilié au Muséum - abrite une collection d'instruments scientifiques anciens issus des cabinets des savants genevois du 17e au 19e siècle.

Site internet du Musée d'histoire naturelle
Site internet du Musée d'histoire des sciences

Accueil Programme

Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures: Collaboratively researching the collections from Namibia at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin

Larissa Förster, Julia Binter and Golda Ha-Eiros

In 2019, experts from Namibia and from the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin conducted in-depth research into the Namibian collections held there. The aim was to better understand where the objects came from, how they were collected and what should happen with them in the future. While the German partners primarily sought to address the colonial entanglements of the collections, the Namibian scholars, curators and artists entered the project with a keen interest to explore possible futures of the objects beyond narratives of colonisation.
Moreover, all researchers involved brought to bear different ways of engaging with the past and of creating knowledge. How should we bring these different epistemologies into dialogue? In order to facilitate transcultural translations, sensitivity for differing historical experiences and for the emotional toll of working with collections from colonial contexts and, in particular, from contexts of genocide were key. Besides, it became crucial to address the epistemic violence of the archive. Colonial ways of categorising people and objects not only occluded and distorted historical Namibian modes of self-identification and ways of life. They also obstructed the identification of objects with people in Namibia’s postcolony today. Consequently, the German-Namibian team devised ways in which to challenge the colonial archive while still trying to obtain useful information for provenance research.
While the intermediary results of this ongoing research will be presented in a small exhibition at the Humboldt Forum, the long-term goal of this collaborative project is to establish a sustainable, open-ended process in which the needs and interests of all partners are heard and addressed. This includes sending selected objects from Berlin to Namibia where researchers, artists and other cultural stakeholders from the country’s diverse communities will conduct further research with the objects and discuss their future potential. One of those potentials is to understand the historical clothes, jewelleries and items of prestige as source of inspiration for contemporary art and design and thus, to envision creative futures.
Ultimately, the collaborative research and the transcultural translations that it necessitated not only challenged narratives about German-Namibian pasts. They also engendered new ways of narrating transcultural presents and envision possible futures. This paper discusses the strategies that the team developed to challenge the colonial archive, to introduce alternative narratives about colonial pasts and postcolonial presents and to envision decolonial futures. It also embeds this collaborative research project into the wider context of public debates about cultural goods from colonial contexts in Germany and ties it in with the recent academic, activist and political efforts of engaging with the often brutal, entangled histories of Germany and Namibia.

Larissa Förster is a social anthropologist. She is Head of the newly established Department for Cultural Goods and Collections from Colonial Contexts at the German Lost Art Foundation, Berlin, and Associate Member of the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage at the Humboldt University, Berlin. Her research focuses on the memory of colonialism in Namibia, on the nexus between colonialism and the formation of (ethnographic) museums in Europe, and on the return of objects and human remains from European collections to their countries of origin. She is a member of the project team of the Namibian-German research and visual arts project “Confronting Colonial Pasts - Envisioning Creative Futures” which centers around Namibian artefacts held at Ethnologisches Museum Berlin and National Museum of Namibia in Windhoek and explores new ways of coproducing knowledge and narratives from historic collections. She co-edited “Museumsethnologie - Eine Einführung. Theorien - Praktiken - Debatten” (2019) and “Provenienzforschung zu ethnografischen Sammlungen der Kolonialzeit. Positionen in der aktuellen Debatte” (2018). She is also a member of two working groups of the German Museums Association for guidelines for German Museums (“The Care of Care of Human Remains in Museums and Collections”, 2021, and “The Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts”, 2021).

Julia Binter is a social anthropologist. She is currently working as a provenance researcher at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin where she leads the collaborative research project “Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures” about the collections from Namibia at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin. She has worked in numerous museums and, from 2016 to 2017, curated the exhibition "The Blind Spot. Bremen, Colonialism and Art" at the Kunsthalle Bremen. Julia studied social and cultural anthropology as well as theatre, film and media studies in Vienna, Paris, Brussels and Oxford where she completed her doctoral thesis on transatlantic trade, cultural exchange and related forms of memory in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Her publications include “Unruly Voices in the Museum” (The Senses and Society, 9:3, 342-360), “The Blind Spot. Bremen, Colonialism and Art” (2017) and “Beyond Exhibiting the Experience of Empire? Challenging Chronotopes in the Museum” (Third Text, 33:4-5, 575-593).

Golda Ha-Eiros is the Curator for the National Museum of Namibia (NMN) responsible for the Anthropology collection. She was previously the curator for Liberation Heritage under the Office of Veterans Affairs responsible for preserving and documenting the history of Namibia’s National Liberation Struggle and at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) as Collections Curator. In 2019, she was guest researcher at the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin where she researched the historical collection from Namibia and co-curated an exhibition on the collaborative research process at the Humboldt Forum. Her publications include (together with Julia Binter) “Man kann die Zukunft nicht ohne Vergangenheit denken. Dialogische Reflexionen über das kooperative Forschungsprojekt Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures zu den Sammlungen aus Namibia im Ethnologischen Museum Berlin”, in Lurz, B., Schlag, W., Wolkinger, T., et al. “Playbook Klimakultur” (2021).