2018 CAA Museum Committee session, "Decolonizing Art Museums?"

Celka Straughn's picture
Call for Papers
August 14, 2017
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Black History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Indigenous Studies

106th College Art Association Annual Conference Los Angeles, February 21 - 24, 2018

Deadline: Aug 14, 2017

Session sponsored by the Museum Committee

Chairs: Risham Majeed, Elizabeth Rodini, Celka Straughn


Decolonizing Art Museums?


The colonial history of museums is by now familiar, and institutional critiques of and

within ethnographic and anthropological collections are fairly widespread. Indeed, many

of the objects in these collections have migrated to art museums as a result of postcolonial

thinking. But what about the art museum? How do these institutions, their collections, and

practices continue to extend colonial outlooks for western and nonwestern art, perhaps

silently, and what tools are being used to disrupt these both in the United States and



This panel explores what decolonization means for art museum practices and the ways

decolonizing approaches can move the museum field toward greater inclusion, broader

scholarly perspectives, and opportunities to redress structural inequities. Topics to address

might include: detangling collection objects from colonial collecting practices;

decentering the status quo across museum operations; reconsidering the relationship

between contemporaneity and historicism; alternative modes of presentation (breaking

received hierarchies and narratives); embracing varied understandings of objects,

materials, catalogues, and archives; polyphony and pluralism in museum rhetoric; and an

understanding of “colonialism” that steps outside conventional definitions of this term.

We invite papers that combine scholarship, practice, and activism, bringing together case

studies with critical reflection on art museums to demonstrate what decolonized practices

can and might look like and offer models for institutional change. Papers that explore

diverse modes of practice within and outside the United States, that provide intersectional

and interdisciplinary approaches, and/or papers that present alternative ways for people to

use and reimagine art museums are especially welcome.


Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words and a shortened CV to each of the

session chairs by August 14, 2017.




Contact Info: 

Celka Straughn

Andrew W. Mellon Director of Academic Programs

Spencer Museum of Art

University of Kansas

1301 Mississippi Street

Lawrence, KS 66045




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