Seminar 2: Decolonizing Museums

friday, October 23, 2015

Lunch – 12:00 - 12:30 PM
Seminar – 12:30 - 2:00 PM

Mortara Center | 3600 N St NW, Washington, DC 20007

Museums have become increasingly animated over the past two decades: ever more tightly integrated in tourist economies, they have remade themselves into affecting, interactive environments for experiencing material culture.  They have also become important venues for cultural recognition and diversity education.  Bringing together expertise from different fields, this seminar asks how new theoretical approaches and museum practices manage to “activate” objects for projects of historical reckoning and repair.  What institutional histories drive or impede such activations?



Featuring Distinguished Presenters:

Margaret Werry is a professor at the University of Minnesota who specializes in anthropological approaches to performace as social dramatrugy, critical race theory, and cultural politics and performance of ethnicity, nationalism, and trans-nationalism, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. She has earned the Outstanding Criticism Award, ATHE in 2006, and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research Grant in 1998. Before working at the University of Minnesota, she was an actor in Mary Zimmerman's S/M: Lookingglass Theatre Company.


Andrew Zimmerman is an award-winning teacher whose research focuses on modern Germany, the United States, and West Africa. He is working on a project tentatively titled "Slaves and Soldiers in the Red and Black Atlantic: A Transnational and Revolutionary History of the American Civil War." He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 1998 and has published numerous books including "Cotton Booms, Cotton Busts, and the Civil War in West Africa," "Primitive Art, Primitive Accumulation, and the Origin of the Work of Art in German New Guinea," and "Three Logics of Race: Theory and Exception in the Transnational History of Empire."


Nancy Bercaw is a curator of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture. Bercaw received her bachelor’s degree in history from Oberlin College and her master’s and doctoral degrees in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the curator of the National Museum of African American History & Culture at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Bercaw is the author of Gendered Freedoms: Race, Rights, and the Politics of the Household in the Mississippi Delta, 1861–1875.  She edited Gender and the Southern Body Politic and co-edited the Gender volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.


Professor Katrin Sieg joined the Center in the fall of 2002 as Associate Professor of German. Prior to her appointment at Georgetown, Professor Sieg was a faculty member of the Department of Germanic Studies at Indiana University. She holds a Ph.D. in Drama from the University of Washington, Seattle. She has received several awards and grants, among them a Humboldt Fellowship, which she used to pursue research in Berlin during the 2001-2002 academic year, and a Senior Faculty Research Award (Fall 2008), which allowed her to complete her most recent book. Professor Sieg is the author of three books on twentieth-century German theater and performance, which focus on the politics of nationality, race/ethnicity, and gender/sexuality. Her recent research looks at the documentary work performed at an immigrant theater in Berlin. Since 2009, she has been a member of an international, interdisciplinary research group examining the Eurovision Song Contest as a site where the "New Europe" is imagined and performed, and becomes available for identification and refashioning. 
She has organized a number of symposia, film series, and conferences on topics relating to contemporary German and European culture, including "Queer European Cinema"; "Shadows and Sojourners: Images of Jews and Antifascism in East German Cinema," "European Cosmopolitanism?" and "Reframing East German Culture." In Fall 2010, she co-curated the film series Afro-German Cinema at the Goethe Institut in Washington, DC.