National Art Gallery hosts workshop on ethics in community-based research

The National Art Gallery of Namibia on Monday hosted a workshop on ethics in community-based research in partnership with the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) and the National Museum of Namibia.

The workshop comprised an overview of the Artistic Research and Communal Knowledge initiative, as well as working with materials from colonial contexts for the purposes of artistic, film, and community research.

The goal of the workshop was to reconnect 23 artefacts from various Namibian communities in the collection of the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin with their communities of origin, academics, artists, and the general public in Namibia.

Ndapewoshali Ashipala, Acting Director of MAN and project co-lead, said the project is based on collaborative provenance research undertaken in Berlin with Namibian experts, and it will pave the way for future returns of artefacts to Namibia from museums in Germany and Europe.

She said the collaboration project ‘Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures’ aims to harness the healing and creative potential of Namibian colonial collections housed at Berlin’s Ethnologisches Museum (EM) and Windhoek’s National Museum of Namibia. It re-connects the collections with one another and with their communities of origin, as well as with researchers, artists, and the general public, Ashipala exclained.

It also contributes to the establishment of a new museum, the Museum of Namibian Fashion, and assesses and improves Namibia’s capacity and infrastructure for receiving artefacts from museums in Germany and Europe that will be repatriated to Namibia in the future.

“At the heart of all collaborative research with regards to African collections in European museums, is the need for the research to be steered by the communities from which the collections originate. MAN has overseen this project with the guidance of the Advisory Board which is composed of stakeholders from the heritage, arts and culture sectors and academia,” she said.

Julia Binter, provenance researcher and co-head of the project at the Zentralarchiv/Ethnologisches Museum of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin on her part said that the joint research process with the different partners from Namibia gave her team the opportunity to listen and learn.

“The research questions we initially developed at the Ethnologisches Museum arose from our belief that we have a responsibility to understand the colonial contexts in which the artefacts were acquired. We also wanted to analyse whether artefacts are directly related to contexts of colonial violence,” she said.

The Gerda Henkel Stiftung is funding the initiative.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency