Decolonization not Diversity

I was very impressed by the article, Mining the Museum, but I think Corrin missed one of its main points by framing it as an issue of “diversity”. Putting silenced voices back into a colonized white supremacist narrative is not always part of the liberal framework of inclusion, but rather should be about decolonizing history. This means looking at it through different eyes, through the “archive of feeling”, and through the archival silences. I thought the project with the busts was particularly impressive for illustrating these silences very literally. I also thought the chair and whipping post exhibit was particularly salient, because it brought in issues of class. The metalwork exhibit also illustrated how American wealth was built on literal shackles of white supremacy.

The article itself did not really discuss class, which I see as a huge problem and part of the liberal focus on “diversity” without actual structural change. True equality requires structural change and anti-capitalism, as illustrated by the exhibits themselves. I am impressed, though, that this exhibit was allowed to appear at all. Other exhibits like the infamous Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian and their art exhibit about the West were cancelled or highly criticized and quickly removed because of their revisionist stance. This exhibit is revisionist in some ways, but I think the over arching narrative doesn’t discuss class and how these objects were founded on white supremacy, like the wealth they embodied, enough.

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