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.