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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Decolonizing Materials

Veronica Peselmann 1, Grace Kim-Butler 2, Elvan Zabunyan 3

1University Of Groningen - Groningen (Netherlands), 2Utrecht University - Utrecht (Netherlands), 3Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

How are specific materials entangled with colonial ecologies and politics? How can we pursue a multidisciplinary conversation on entwined decolonizing practices of material culture? (Post)colonial perspectives on art and art history have long examined the visual depiction of colonized people and landscapes and how colonial power relations persist through limited access to exhibitions and production opportunities (Singh 2017, Enwezor 2008, Spivak 1988). In addition, recent research in the histories of art and environment follow the colonial pasts of materials into practices of the colonial present (e.g. Davis 2022, Foa and Ogata 2021, Demos 2017). Our session will build on this scholarship to investigate how today's practitioners in art and craft interpret (post)colonial theories and re-make them through the study and incorporation of specific materials. Along with this work, we ask: where do the materials of art come from, how are they extracted as raw materials and transformed into something work- able, and how may they obscure and make explicit colonizing practices and imaginaries, both old and new? In other words, we observe that decolonization is being built into the making of material culture today. We argue that following the different histories and production practices of each material can shine new light on how to conduct a decolonizing scholarship that accounts for both art and environmental histories.

It is imperative to bring together both the makers and the scholars of colonial histories in this work. We want to open up the multiplicity of decolonizing practice across the making of art and its critical study in humanities and social science research. Therefore, we invite art historians, environmental historians, artists, and museum studies scholars to consider together: Which aspects of colonial pasts and presents become materialized in artworks today, such as trade routes, exploitative labor, race and gender politics, environmental degradation, and waste? And importantly, which specific materials are brought to matter for those issues and used as decolonizing tools? Examples may include how artists today incorporate Indigenous materials to cite colonial contexts or "re-clothe" colonial monuments, or how past artisans working under colonial rule have used popular trade products as ways of speaking back to the colonial erasures of local techniques and knowledges.