Jonas Bens, Philipp Schorch, Timo Duile, Paola Ivanov, Andrea Scholz et al.

Pluralizing the value of things

In recent years, ethnographic museums in Germany and other European countries have been engulfed in a controversial debate about the colonial provenance of their collections. This debate – as much as it rightly makes ongoing colonialism a topic of discussion – tends to systematically universalize specific regimes of value, particularly capitalist property and cultural heritage. We believe, however, that conceptions of how things are valued must be pluralized in a double sense. First, we need a more coherent theoretical and methodological framework to better understand the plurality of regimes, systems and spheres in which value is created – focusing on both indigenous and western/colonial value regimes and their multiple intersections. Second, we must think beyond research regions in order to bring different perspectives on value regimes into conversation with one another. This network will assemble a group of ten anthropologists and museum practitioners and enable them to work together over a longer period. The aim is to establish a dialogue between the anthropology of value and new approaches in the anthropology of materiality and personhood beyond regional approaches. Against the background of the current discussions on museums and colonialism, this network aims to develop decolonial approaches to rethink materiality in the context of a plurality of value regimes.

 The project is financed via the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / German Research Council).

Article Image: Young and old women’s ear pendant, appropriated by Kurt Johannes. Brass and leather. Acquired 1896, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Photo: Martin Franken. Young and old women’s ear pendant, appropriated by Kurt Johannes. Brass and leather. Acquired 1896, Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Photo: Martin Franken.
Article Image: Casimiro Villegas explains the weaving pattern of a fire fan, Macucu (Colombia), 2018. Photo: Orlando Villegas. Casimiro Villegas explains the weaving pattern of a fire fan, Macucu (Colombia), 2018. Photo: Orlando Villegas.