Decolonizing the Western Museum: (Im)possible?
On June 9th, Humanities Across Borders is happy to announce Françoise Vergès' lecture on her new book Programme de désordre absolu. Décoloniser le musée (La Fabrique, March 2023), where she argues that the decolonization of the Western museum is impossible.
"Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is, obviously, a program of complete disorder. But it cannot come as a result of magical practices, nor of a natural shock, nor of a friendly understanding. Decolonization, as we know, is a historical process: that is to say that it cannot be understood, it cannot become intelligible nor clear to itself except in the exact measure that we can discern the movements which give it historical form and content. " - Frantz Fanon
If decolonization, as Frantz Fanon wrote, is a program of absolute disorder because it sets up to change the order of the world, then the museum, an invention of European modernity intimately tied with colonialism and imperialism, cannot be decolonized unless it is entirely dismantled. Its model is, however, hegemonic, the prestige of its collection must reflect the degree of civilization of the nation, and its architecture must attract awards and tourists. Escaping this hegemony means imagining a “post-museum.” Françoise Vergès will first look at the birth of one of the most prestigious universal museums, Le Louvre, the child of the European Enlightenment and the French Revolution, then at initiatives that are imagining post-museums.
Françoise Vergès (Ph.D. Berkeley, 1995) is a political scientist, writer, independent curator and activist. Recent publications: Programme de désordre absolu. Décoloniser le musée, 2023, A Feminist Theory of Violence, 2021, De la violence coloniale dans l’espace public, 2021, A Decolonial Feminism, 2020.
For talk inquiries, contact Joaquin Lapuz at