Teaching Diversity Scholarship

Teaching Diversity Scholarship

Scholarship "Lehre Divers"

Prof. Dr. Plummer is one of three recipients of the 2016 “Lehre Divers” scholarship, awarded by the Zentrum für Hochschulbildung at the University of Duisburg-Essen for the implementation of innovative teaching methods concerned with diversity. The scholarship entails material support, allowing Prof. Dr. Plummer the appointment of a research assistant, as well as cooperation with researchers and lecturers from several faculties in the form of workshops. Its aim is to renew and improve teaching at the University of Duisburg-Essen by funding innovative ways of teaching diversity.

Diversity is a complex topic which in some form or other often enters discussions on postcolonialism. Prof. Dr. Plummer’s seminar “Colonialism’s Heritage in Museums and Archives” (winter semester 2016/17), however, approached the topic from various angles, including the diversity of museum collections and the changing role of museums, diversity and multimedia presentations of museum collections, and addressing diversity in teaching and learning.

 

Winter Semester 2016/17

Seminar "Colonialism’s Heritage in Museums and Archives"

 

The OED simply defines a museum as a “building or institution in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are preserved and exhibited”. Although this may be their primary function, museums can have even further instructive value. Indeed, they can be “Lernorte von Diversität”, perfect places to study the impact of diversity. The aim of the seminar “Colonialism’s Heritage in Museums and Archives” was to find connections between Indigeneity, colonialism, decolonisation and museum collections worldwide.

During the colonial period, European travellers and scientists collected a plethora of cultural artefacts as well as human body parts from all over the world. These artefacts were transported, for instance from Australia and from African colonies, to European museums, universities and private collections to be studied and exhibited. Today, museums such as the British Museum in London or the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin are surrounded by controversies as they still possess things and human remains that were acquired in colonial times.

How should such artefacts be dealt with? Should they be repatriated, i.e. returned, to where they were taken from? Who has the right to receive them? Would repatriation eventually make museums obsolete? The seminar approached these issues by providing students with historical and theoretical knowledge, encouraging them critically to address colonialism's heritage in museums and archives in excursions, discussions and research projects.