African centring: A de-colonizing approach to museum representations of African peoples’ pasts in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
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Museums are sites of representation and contestation; especially in South Africa, where the representation of African peoples’ pasts are often found in Eurocentric oriented museums. Museums, as retainers of material culture could present alternative understandings of African peoples’ pasts, one not subject to a Eurocentric valorisation of the written word as the blueprint of development and complexity. To this point, the practice of archaeology and its potential contribution to public understandings of African peoples’ pasts become critical to African centring. Framed within a larger discussion of coloniality, I use qualitative methods to assess museum display themes across KwaZulu-Natal, colonial and apartheid narratives and reframing opportunities at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, and the museum as a teaching resource. In this dissertation, I discuss de-linking strategies, such as the use of orality and museum educator orientation, which hold potential to create a humanism that expands African peoples’ contributions to the stories of humanity.