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Words by Rosa Anna Di Lella

Introducing the Keynote Speakers at "Creating Shared Futures through Contested Heritages”

"Privilege, Resistance and Care in a time of catastrophes"

is the title of Gaia Giuliani's Theoretical Introduction to the 21 October Creative Study Lab "Creating Shared Futures through Contested Heritages”.


This paper draws largely from my last book Monsters, Catastrophes and the Anthropocene. A Postcolonial Critique (Routledge, 2021), developing a postcolonial critique of ideas of crisis, precarity and catastrophe as produced in the Global North. It does so in three parts: the first focuses on the crisis generated by the “end of the history of the “we”” that migrations from the Global South towards Europe and the West seem to cause. This section reads the fears of invasion as fears for the subversion of the boundaries that the Western and, specifically, the European “we” has built to silence the memory of colonial violence and prevent the formerly colonised subject to strike back. The second section examines the crisis caused by the “end of geography” that the Global North sees as generated by the spill over into its “safe” space, namely the migrations and catastrophes caused by Anthropocenic ontologies and the logic of neoliberal capitalism. The last part attends to the fears of catastrophe that the Global North sees as generated by the “end of humanity”, understood as the end of Western domination, including the hierarchies and inequalities that sustain it. The lecture ends by proposing a feminist decolonial political project based on care, self-care and Earth-care.

Gaia Giuliani is an Italian critical whiteness studies pioneer, an anti-racist feminist activist and scholar, and a transnational de-constructor of post-colonial (visual) archives of monstrosity.

Currently she is a permanent researcher at the Centro de Estudos Sociais (CES), University of Coimbra, Portugal, where she is also the PI of FCT project “(De)Othering - Deconstructing Risk and Otherness” (2018-2121). She hold her PhD at the University of Torino (2005) and since then has worked at the Universities of Bologna, Technology Sydney, and Cambridge, and collaborated as research associate with the University of Padova, Leeds, London (Goldsmiths and Birkbeck College) and Fodham. Among other books, she is the author of Monsters, Catastrophes and the Anthropocene. A postcolonial Critique (Routledge 2021), Race, Nation, and Gender in Modern Italy. Intersectional Representations in Visual Culture (Palgrave Macmillan 2019) - Finalist, Fifth place ex-aequo of the Edinburgh Gadda Prize 2019, Zombie, alieni e mutanti. Le paure dall’11 settembre ai giorni nostri (Le Monnier-Mondadori Education 2016), Bianco e nero. Storia dell’identità razziale degli italiani with dr. Cristina Lombardi-Diop (Le Monnier-Mondadori Education 2013) - First prize in the 20th-21st century category by the American Association for Italian Studies, and Beyond curiosity (Aracne 2008)

Panel 1 - "Collaborating through collections: worldwide networks and co-operations with source communities"

Keynote speech
Maria Camilla De Palma
| Castello D’Albertis Museo delle Culture del Mondo
"DECOLONIZE AND CHILL. Refocusing museums on people, values and equity relationships"


I am using the title of a work of Jaque Fragua, shown in 2019 in Genoa in our exhibition “Landscapes from within” by Soul Center for the Arts, as an invitation to open ourselves to finally act, and not only to theorize, in favour of a global decolonizing approach, recognizing our still colonial practices embedded in our institutions. Efforts to identify and dismantle the power structures underlying them will be tackled, showing processes from our daily activities interpreting our collections and their history decentering our perspectives and questioning them. It is high time, in this challenging period of suffering and transformation, to negotiate new meanings and third spaces together with the communities of origin, finally daring to admit that it is all about passion, relationships and care – if we want museums to really act as agents of social change and still have a role in today’s society.

Maria Camilla De Palma
Museum anthropologist, founding director of Castello D’Albertis Museum of World Cultures in Genoa-Italy since 1991, has been developing exhibitions, workshops and educational programs on indigenous peoples of Africa, the Americas and Oceania through the dialogues with them and migrant citizens, for the accessibility for all kinds of publics and cultures.She did field research among the Wayuú in Venezuela, the Bororo of Mato Grosso in Brazil, on the mayan site of Copán-Honduras with the Peabody Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, and among the Hopi of Arizona, thanks to a Getty Curatorial Grant for the inclusion of native voices in European museums. She is member of ICME and founding member of Simbdea (Italian Society for Ethno-Anthropological Museums and Heritage). She publishes in the field of museum anthropology, social inclusion and on the intercultural use of cultural heritage.

PANEL 2 - "Collections under scrutiny: artists, activists, outsiders"

Keynote speech
Giulia Grechi
| Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
"Can a wound be exposed? Posthumous coloniality and decolonial (after)life in museums"


The material and cultural legacies of colonialism survive in our public and private spaces, in the streets with their odonomastics, and in museums, especially ethnographic museums. The question of colonial heritage is at the centre of reflection in many European countries, both with regard to the controversial issue of restitution and to the question of the possibilities of decolonising spaces, narratives, epistemologies and structural arrangements of the museum. Among the various possibilities, the focus of the intervention will be the activation of processes of critical, participatory and political re-mediation through curatorial and artistic practices with, in and through the museum.

Giulia Grechi is a cultural anthropologist. She is professor of Cultural Anthropology and Anthropology of Art at the Fine Arts Academy of Brera. Her research interests include cultural and post-colonial studies, migrations, museography, with a focus on representations of the body, and how contemporary art practices can discuss and re-shape these complex imaginaries. She holds a PhD in “Theory and social research” at the University La Sapienza (Rome). She has been research fellow at “L’Orientale” (Naples) since January 2015, as a member of the EU Project “MeLa – European Museums in the Age of Migrations”, where she has been working on the relation between museums, migrations, contemporary anthropology and contemporary art. She participated in the British international project “TML – Transnationalizing Modern Languages”, about “italianità” beyond the national frame, curating with Viviana Gravano the final exhibition of the project, Beyond Borders. Transnational Italy. The exhibition travelled between Rome, London, New York, Melbourne, Addis Ababa, Tunis. She is editor-in-chief of the on-line journal roots§routes – research on visual culture, and founder of the cultural association Routes Agency – cura of contemporary arts, based in Rome. She recently published Decolonizzare il museo. Mostrazioni, pratiche artistiche, sguardi incarnati (Mimesis, 2021).

PANEL 3- "Building plural narratives from contested heritages: dialogues with diasporas and stakeholders"

Keynote speech
Sandra Ferracuti
| Università degli Studi di Udine
Stone Karim Mohamad
| ABRAC Advisory Board for the Representation of African Collections at the Linden-Museum Stuttgart
"The ABRAC: You, and I. Tales from a heritage community of practice"


This contribution stems from our shared experience of participating in a “heritage community of practice” at the Linden-Museum Stuttgart and it aims at discussing the possibility to “normalize” and provide structural support to long-term interdisciplinary research relationships based on the shared interest for heritage as a tool for democracy and equality and for the distribution of knowledges and creative agency. Such a way to proceed may allow for the “normalization”, in the public arena, of the coexistence of points of views and poetic and poetical agendas that are not necessarily aligned and reduced into a single perspective, and thus may remain open systems that are capable of continuously learning from each other.

Sandra Ferracuti is a cultural anthropologist with training and research experience in Cameroon, Germany, Italy, Mozambique, and the USA. Between 2016 and 2020, she was responsible of the “Africa” department of the Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Germany. Currently, she serves as adjunct professor of Anthropology of Art at the University of Udine, Italy, and her main current research focus is on “heritage frictions” between Africa and Europe and issues of citizenship in Europe as seen from the perspective of the anthropology of museums, heritages, and the arts.

Stone Karim Mohamad is a poet and contemporary art performer: since 2016, he is a member of the ABRAC (Advisory Board for the Representation of African Collections) at the Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Germany. The same museum’s permanent exhibition “Wo ist Afrika?” includes a film of the site-specific performance Les séquelles de la colonisation 2 : Patrimoine africain et ses conflits en Europe, which he co-designed with contemporary dancer, choreographer and performer Zobel Raoul Tejeutsa. Together with the other members of the ABRAC, he contributed greatly to the development of the permanent exhibition as a whole.