CFP: The Return of the Native. Contestation, collaboration and co-authorship in museum spaces

The Return of the Native
Contestation, collaboration and co-authorship in museum spaces
Conference Room, Sir Roland Wilson Building, The Australian National University, Canberra
18-19 June 2015
The theme of this symposium is Indigenous agency in museums and galleries. The focus is the
historical impact of Indigenous agents and ideas on contemporary museum practice (including art, social history and science museums as well as keeping places and cultural centres). It will investigate to what degree participation by Indigenous agents has shifted the ways in which we define museums today.
The conference papers will derive from the following ideas and questions:
– How do museums engage (or fail to engage) with Indigenous communities, philosophies and  cultural production?
– What historical impact has Indigenous agency, authority and traditional knowledge had on the
 development of current museum practices – including curatorial authority, exhibition
techniques, theoretical methodologies, collection management, collecting processes,
repatriation, public programs and audience development?
– How has the notion of authority and agency shifted over the last thirty years; what have been the key exhibitions and policies that have changed the way museums deal with Indigenous stakeholders?
– How have different types of institutions (fine art, regional, ethnographic, historical and ethnic  museums) responded to incorporating Indigenous knowledge and authority?
– How have different colonial histories produced dissimilar policies internationally and locally regarding Indigenous authority and/or sovereignty over historical collections?
– Through what methodologies does consultation occur between museums and Indigenous communities; who speaks for whom; how can a diverse (even divided) community be adequately represented?
– What are the implications of these questions for future museum practices and articulations of Indigenous agency?
Keynote speaker: Dawn Casey, Inaugural Director of the National Museum of Australia, Former Director of the Western Australian Museum and the Powerhouse Museum.
Anna Edmundson;
Margo Neale;
Sharon Peoples;
Laurajane Smith
Concurrent with the symposium, a tour will be conducted of the Gallery of First Australians at the National Museum of Australia including a ‘white-gloves’ viewing of relevant items from the collections.
The symposium will be the first stage of a longer investigative process leading to an International  Conference in 2016 and a subsequent publication on the theme of Indigenous Agency in Museums and Galleries. The conference will bring together international scholars and practitioners from Australia, Europe, North America and New Zealand to investigate the development of new modes of museum practice through specific case studies of conflict, collaboration and co-authoring between museums and Indigenous curators, artists, activists and communities.
The symposium is funded by the National Museum of Australia with generous support from the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU College of the Arts and Social Sciences.
*Proposals should include: the authors name, email and institutional affiliation; the paper’s title; and an abstract of no more than 500 words. Proposals should be sent by 21 March 2015 to Anna Edmundson (
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