Don't scare me, coloniser: Empowerment through digital innovation

Museums are fraught spaces. The knowledge they hold is critical for us, as Indigenous people. It’s where I’ve seen objects from my country for the first time. But that they “hold knowledge” does not convey enough of the dilemma of encountering our histories in compromised institutional spaces. There’s a scene in Black Panther, the 2018 film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, that summarises this dilemma. The antagonist Erik Killmonger is at a British Museum looking at African objects in a glass cabinet. “I’ll be taking these off your hands pretty soon,” he says to the curator. She protests that he does not have permission. He replies, “You think your ancestors had permission when they took these off my people?” Permission was not asked for, nor given. Objects were taken. Lives were lost. Something made by ancestors may never be touched by a descendant. There’s a certain humanity lost forever.

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