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Words by Nora Haas

'Caring Matters' Extraction

The many Meanings of 'Taking Care'

As part of this panel on 'Extraction'  Rosalind Morris, award-winning anthropologist and cultural critic and Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, explored the many different meanings  the expression 'Taking Care' can have.

'Haunted from within by the notion of Take (appropriation)'

'Take on something, leaving the object behind (in the meaning)'

'Take something in hand as oppose to take something in one’s hand (discipline it)'

'Take Care: beware, danger ahead

'also to wish well'


And this poses the question what might have been the intention behind giving this project the title ‘Taking Care’?

"The notion of Taking Care is to move us from preservation to the forms of obligations and mutual sustenance that befall a museum in the moment of fallism, it is also shattered by the long history of taking (Care for objects was displaced by the mode of production and preservation ie. private property)."


"What can a museum that wants to take care do - if it does not want to simply repeat the originary sin of recoding or in this case managing the artefacts of a violent recoding?"

What sustenance and obligation is demanded of ethnological museums (specifically) with regard to their holdings:

Task of the museum now cannot be limited to how it deals with what it has accumulated and how to preserve.

"The capacity for caring for objects in whatever form is likely to be challenged in the near future by previously unforeseen catastrophes linked to climate change (such as the mass movement of peoples, inundation of capital areas on the coast, loss of species, the disruption of social relations, the proliferation of pandemics) it becomes the role of the museum in preparing for and sustaining the capacities for caring and what is deemed of value under these circumstances."

We need to ask ourselves what kinds of taking care must be enacted to facilitate the holding of that which people would like to have available for the future?

"Museums to become a place of holding and not just of holdings, redeemed from its role as the beneficiary and theatre of originary accumulation and embark on this journey with others."

Sustaining for future generations perhaps in a manner that will have to go beyond repatriation.....


For more and to rewatch the entrire panel here.