The Culture of Coloniality

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by Daniela Ortiz
published in Decolonizing Museums, edited by Internationale Online

In a context of extreme colonial violence which the migrant and refugee populations are currently experiencing in Europe, it can be useful and necessary to think about decolonising the museum. But there is a danger that it may become a matter that is totally out of context and even insulting if it does not place at its centre a discussion concerning the situation that is currently imposed by Europe’s migratory control system on which people come from the former colonies. Decolonising a cultural institution does not just mean considering the matter and organising exhibitions and seminars. In the current context, decolonising a museum requires a constant effort to take a position in regard to the migratory control system; it requires accepting that it is impossible to continue programming activities and events while there is a total normalisation of the existence of Migrant Detention Centres, forced deportation flights on a mass and individual scale, individuals with semi-rights and anti-rights, and situations of extreme violence in border zones which are the local contexts where these projects are presented. Decolonising a museum means sending letters to the Ministry of Interior, organising press conferences to condemn the use of culture in the discourse of integration, making the legal apparatus of the museum available to persecuted people; it means acknowledging the level of urgency imposed in the European context by the backbone of coloniality.