Contestation of Knowledge in the Collection and Exhibition of Indigenous Objects by Catholic Mission Museums
By asking how ethnographic museums founded by Catholic missionaries have interpreted collection objects, Dwirahmi Suryandari’s project explores the ways in which knowledge is produced and contested.
The arrival of Catholic missionaries in the Indonesian archipelago starting in the sixteenth century, and their interaction with local communities, resulted not only in the spread of the new religion, but also in a shift within the local material and immaterial culture. As well as evangelizing, missionaries were collectors and ethnographers, meaning that they played a crucial role in cultural interpretation.
Through the lens of postcolonial discourse in museum studies and missiology, using a combination of archival and ethnographic research, the project investigates how knowledge has been produced, re-produced, and circulated through the collection, documentation, and presentation of objects in two museums in Indonesia: the Nias Heritage Museum in Nias, North Sumatra, and Museum Bikon Blewut in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.
Dwirahmi has an MA in world heritage studies from Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus. She worked as a museum and heritage specialist at Southeast Asia Museum Services, where she was involved in projects related to World Heritage status nomination and management and significance assessment for collections belonging to museums across Indonesia.
Find Dwirahmi's profile on the Website of the International Max Planck Research School – "Knowledge and its Resources" (IMPRS-KIR).