Collecting Power: Museums, Colonialism, and Restitution
Your upfront cost: $0
- 31 Jul 2023
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- Gain an understanding of the role that collecting art and visual culture plays in broad political and historical developments.
- Develop and strengthen understanding and engagement with ethical debates that apply to collecting, ownership and censorship within historical and contemporary arts contexts.
- Expand skills in research, critical and reflective thinking, and writing by evaluating key ideas and concepts.
- • The relationship between museums, theft of cultural heritage and colonialism.
- • The case of the Elgin Marbles.
- • The case of Nazi looting.
- • The cases of terrorist destruction of cultural heritage.
- • First Nations campaigns for restitution and repatriation of cultural heritage.
- • How museums have changed in response to First Nations advocacy.
- • How contemporary art contributes to the decolonising of museum collections.
Past La Trobe University students who have previously completed ARH2LIC (Looting, Iconoclasm and Censorship) are ineligible to enrol in this subject.
No additional requirements
Museums are widely considered the custodians of what our cultures deem most valuable. Yet what is collected, and how, tells us a great deal about the ongoing violence of colonialism. In this subject, you explore the relationship between collecting, conflict and power, and how the role of art in conquest, nation-building and religious conflicts can lead to its destruction or censorship. You will consider several case studies drawn from a Western context, such as the Elgin marbles, Nazi looting and terrorist destruction of cultural heritage, and explore the wider ethical and legal context of collecting, destruction and theft. You will also explore broad cultural responses to redressing this legacy in ‘decolonising’ actions that include the restitution and repatriation of cultural objects and the transformation of institutional practices in response to First Nations advocacy. You will be introduced to the ethical, moral and legal issues involved in the circulation of art around the world to facilitate the development of your global and cross-cultural thinking.
- Case Study 1, 1000 words (25%)
- Research essay, 2000 words (50%)
- Case study 2: written report 1000 words (25%)
For textbook details check your university's handbook, website or learning management system (LMS).