KOHI’s perspective on dissemination of Denmark’s colonial history

– Slide for discussion at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture

by Lars Kjær, Chairman for KOHI

The West Indies Warehouse was built in 1780-1781.
Foto: Nils Jepsen from: https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestindisk_Pakhus_(K%C3%B8benhavn)#/media/Fil:Vestindisk_Pakhus_cbh.jpg

Time, space, and many worlds

What makes sense in Denmark rarely makes sense anywhere else in the world.

Here follows two examples of Danish game developers who have not understood that opinions and attitudes change over time and across space:

The first example: In 2015, the educational game ’Playing History: Slave Trade’ was withdrawn after an online ‘shit-storm’.

Foto: Screendump from the game via Daily Mail here from Markussen, Marie: Dansk spiludvikler trækker ‘Slave Tetris’ tilbage efter kritik, dr.dk. 2015

» ‘Slave Tetris’ has been removed as it was perceived by some people to be extremely insensitive. This overshadowed the game’s goal of learning. We apologize to those who felt offended by our attempts to show how inhuman slavery was «.

Markussen, Marie: Dansk spiludvikler trækker ‘Slave Tetris’ tilbage efter kritik, dr.dk. 2015

The second example: In 2013, the game ‘Conquistador’ was criticized for being racist and for providing an old-fashioned perspective on colonization. The Argentine ombudsman referred to the game as a re-creation of a genocide.

Foto: oztoo from https://www.deviantart.com/oztoo/art/Expeditions-Conquistador-2-641364266

» It is obviously a minefield that we have moved into «

Madsen, Anders Haubart: Dansk spil kaldes racistisk. Politiken, 5. august 2013

Yet another example is the criticism raised against the Danish National Museum’s exhibition: ‘ Voices from the Colonies ‘:

» When the West Indies delegations came in and saw that exhibition, they were appalled. For example, it says somewhere that after the field work, the enslaved could go home to the village. ‘This is where they have their home,’ and then you see a model of a cozy wooden hut. The delegation I was with did not understand that such a thing could be shown, and even looked at by school children « .

Anders Juhl, Vice-Chairman for KOHI. In Eiby, Tine: SPURGT: Kolonitidens førerbunker. Weekendavisen. 19. juni 2020

It is worth considering if our cultural institutions and cultural products can be responsive to change, if our cultural institutions and cultural products can be developed and dessiminated with relevance to other cultural contexts (for example an indigenous, an international, or an new emerging context), if our institutes can differentiate content and attract larger groups of ethnic minorities to the organizations and ensure their representation.

Perspectives on museum dissemination in Denmark

Divergent views on museum dissemination can be identified in the debate in the media during the summer of 2020.

One perspective

David Holt Olsen and Michael Böss

» I have no doubt that it (KOHI) probably will be a winning project. Today’s winners will always be the ones who make it sound as if they want to make the least museum-like museum.

Preferably without boring objects and without resting on a refinement of any kind of tradition, but be brand new and never seen before «.

Olsen, David Holt: Det gælder om at være det mindst museumsagtige museum. 2. juli 2020. Jyllands-posten.dk

» In my opinion, a center risks being tendentious and guided by experiences rather than dissemination of knowledge and research « .

Michael Böss in Herskind, Ida: ‘Museum om slavegjorte splitter historikere’. 26. juni 2020. Politiken.

» There is something strategically unfortunate that the proposal is gaining support right now. I am concerned that it will be used in an identity policy agenda that could create division « .

Michael Böss in Agger, Kalinka Aaman: Politikere støtter nyt kolonihistorisk center, men historiker advarer. 29. juni 2020. Berlingske.

Journalist Kalinka Aaman Agger writes in the same article that for Michael Böss it is crucial that the important colonial history is not transformed into a ‘center of conscience’ in the light of the current racial debates at home and globally.

For historians such as Dr.phil., Emeritus, Michael Böss and museum inspector David Holt Olsen, historical artifacts is crucial like in a real museum.

Characterization of David Holt Olsen’s and Michael Böss´ views:

  • Tradition
  • Dissemination of knowledge and research
  • Room for reflections
  • A real museum – not a ‘center of conscience’
  • Historians contributes with real expert knowledge
  • Authenticity = historical artifacts

Another perspective

– Thomas Block Ravn and Ulla Tofte

The perspective of Thomas Block Ravn, director of Den Gamle By, and others who share the same view, is to reach out widely, have a varied use of tools and media and make history relevant for the ordinary people.

» If a colonial history museum is to have an effect on people’s consciousness in general, there is little doubt that one should choose the storytelling model « .


Tofte, Ulla and Ravn, Thomas Bloch: Debat. Museumsdirektører: Ja tak til kolonihistorisk fortælling – men for hvem og hvordan? 30. juni 2020. Kristeligt Dagblad. Sektion 1. Side 8

A similar view has at an earlier point been expressed by Dr. Sten Rentzhog, former head of
Jamtli in Östersund and former director of the Nordic Museum in Stockholm.

» The museum must not just or first and foremost be one pedagogical bank for factual knowledge.

The special opportunity of museums is that we can work with feelings, experiences and sensations « .

Rentzhog, Sten in Ravn, Thomas Bloch. Ståsted og pejlepunkter: Den Gamle By, Danmarks Købstadmuseums Årbog, 2014.

Characterization of Thomas Block Ravn’s and Ulla Tofte’s perspective:

  • Wide variety of methods
  • Strong emphasis on museum pedagogy
  • ‘Tivolization’ ( experience economy )
  • Authenticity is not limited to historical artifacts

KOHI’s perspective on dissemination is to be understood within this tradition.

KOHI’s perspective

= a hybrid between GLAM-institutions

GLAM (Galleries, Libaries, Archives, Museums)

Background image: Musernes dans på Helikon A340, Thorvaldsen’s Museum. Copenhagen, Denmark

Thomas Bloch Ravn writes:

» The British museum expert, Peter Lewis, has in a campaign against what he calls “the brigade of the boring museums” pointed out how only the muses of history and astronomy, Clio and Urania, are included in the modern museum concept, while the seven muses with the poetic, the musical and the dramatic, all have been excluded.

In addition, he argues that these excluded muses should again be included in our museum concept, which will thus also contain elements of the poetic, the musical and the dramatic « .

Ravn, Thomas Bloch. Ståsted og pejlepunkter. Den Gamle By, Danmarks Købstadmuseums Årbog, 2014

KOHI wants to make room for many worlds and different professions. Because many different perspectives on colonialism is necessary.

» It’s about getting a flow of different voices coming in alternately. We imagine a dynamic, closest festival-oriented organization, where in addition to a small permanent and fact-based exhibition, there are ongoing special exhibitions or events, which are curated by various former outsiders. One time from Ghana, maybe, the next from the Faroe Islands, the third from Copenhagen « .

Anders Juhl, Vice-Chairman for KOHI. In Eiby, Tine: SPURGT: Kolonitidens førerbunker. Weekendavisen. 19. juni 2020

A democratic and
inclusive tradition

Take the responsibility for learning and cognition

The use of fx. reenactment, foodstuffs, music, exhibitions of material culture, art performances, digital dissemination, talks, podcasts, conferences, walking tours can provide different perspectives on the past, the present and the future. This can create learning and cognition, and can foster collaboration between citizens, organizations, and cultural institutions.

Scaffolding and dissemination

» We have also shown that augmented reality scaffolds can support learning of very challenging content […] and can increase the amount of time visitors spend at an exhibit […] « .

Yoon, Susan A, Emma Anderson, Miyoung Park, Karen Elinich, and Joyce Lin. “How Augmented Reality, Textual, and Collaborative Scaffolds Work Synergistically to Improve Learning in a Science Museum.” Research in science & technological education 36, no. 3 (January 17, 2018): 261–281.

Scaffolding, as a learning metaphor, is a process whereby support or assistance is provided to the learner in order to successfully accomplish a goal or task that they would be unable to do alone

Combinations of various kinds of scaffolds can support visitors in developing deeper understanding.

Scaffolds can be digital dissemination, reenactment, foodstuffs, music, exhibitions of material culture, art performances, talks, podcasts, conferences, walking tours etc.

KOHI wants a dialogue between people associated with former colonial powers and former colonies. The former colonized must have real influence in establishing an institution for colonial history in Denmark.

What stories could KOHI tell and what methods can be used?

Migration, inequality, trade, racism, exploitation, tolerance, peace, liberation, unity, past, present, future, …

Walking tours and reenactments

» The reenactment could be used to engage the past as if it were a public space, accessible and belonging to all «.

Durica, Paul: “Past Imperfect, Or the Pleasures and Perils of the Reenactment.” Journal of American studies 52, no. 4 (November 2018): 929–942.

Open-access, multimedia webplatforms

Multimedia webplatforms allows academics to gather images, audio, and videos side by side with text in publications that are born digital and openly accessible. For example. Scarlar

Delmont, Matthew F.: Black Quotidian – Everyday History in African-American Newspapers, Stanford University Press 2019

Web Docs

Digital maps

.embed-container {position: relative; padding-bottom: 80%; height: 0; max-width: 100%;} .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container iframe{position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%;} small{position: absolute; z-index: 40; bottom: 0; margin-bottom: -15px;}

Digital 3D models for VR and AR experiences

Fra seminardagen “Fremtidige perspektiver på kuturarvsbevaring og formidling”, Københavns Universitetsbibliotek, Søndre Campus, 2019. Foto: Nikoline Rosenbjerg.

» Nowadays, 3D digital imaging proposes effective solutions for preserving the expression of human creativity across the centuries, as well as is a great tool to guarantee global dissemination of knowledge and wide access to these invaluable resources of the past. «

C Santagati, M Lo Turco, M M Bocconcino, V Donato, and M Galizia. “3D MODELS FOR ALL: LOW-COST ACQUISITION THROUGH MOBILE DEVICES IN COMPARISON WITH IMAGE BASED TECHNIQUES. POTENTIALITIES AND WEAKNESSES IN CULTURAL HERITAGE DOMAIN.” International archives of the photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences. XLII-2/W8 (January 1, 2017): 221–228.

Vision

Based on Danish colonial history KOHI will work for popular recognition of the facts and consequences of colonialism.

Broad popular recognition of the facts and consequences of colonialism

Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery, Nantes, France.

Sites of Conscience

» These ( Sites of Conscience ) are places that one decides to preserve forever so that our memory of what they represent never disappears. Concentration camps, for example, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam or the Gulag Museum Perm-36 in Russia. ”- That’s an obvious idea, so why do we not already have one? « .

Anders Juhl, Vice-Chairman for KOHI. In Eiby, Tine: SPURGT: Kolonitidens førerbunker. Weekendavisen. 19. juni 2020

A Site of Conscience: https://www.sitesofconscience.org/

A Site of Conscience is a place of memory – such as a historic site, place-based museum or memorial – that prevents this erasure from happening in order to ensure a more just and humane future. Not only do Sites of Conscience provide safe spaces to remember and preserve even the most traumatic memories, but they enable their visitors to make connections between the past and related contemporary human rights issues.

Read more about KOHI:

Forslag om etablering af et Kolonihistorisk Center i en del af Vestindisk pakhus

Kolonihistoriskcenter.dk

Litteratur

Markussen, Marie: Dansk spiludvikler trækker ‘Slave Tetris’ tilbage efter kritik, dr.dk. 2015

Kildebogaard, Jesper: Dansk computerspil får latinamerikanere på barrikaderne, version2.dk, 5. august 2013.

Madsen, Anders Haubart: Dansk spil kaldes racistisk. Politiken, 5. august 2013

Olsen, David Holt: Det gælder om at være det mindst museumsagtige museum. 2. juli 2020. Jyllands-posten.dk

Herskind, Ida: ‘Museum om slavegjorte splitter historikere’. 26. juni 2020. Politiken.

Agger, Kalinka Aaman: Politikere støtter nyt kolonihistorisk center, men historiker advarer. 29. juni 2020. Berlingske.

Tofte, Ulla and Ravn, Thomas Bloch: Debat. Museumsdirektører: Ja tak til kolonihistorisk fortælling – men for hvem og hvordan? 30. juni 2020. Kristeligt Dagblad. Sektion 1. Side 8

Ravn, Thomas Bloch. Ståsted og pejlepunkter: Den Gamle By, Danmarks Købstadmuseums Årbog, 2014.

Yoon, Susan A, Emma Anderson, Miyoung Park, Karen Elinich, and Joyce Lin. “How Augmented Reality, Textual, and Collaborative Scaffolds Work Synergistically to Improve Learning in a Science Museum.” Research in science & technological education 36, no. 3 (January 17, 2018): 261–281.

Durica, Paul: “Past Imperfect, Or the Pleasures and Perils of the Reenactment.” Journal of American studies 52, no. 4 (November 2018): 929–942.

C Santagati, M Lo Turco, M M Bocconcino, V Donato, and M Galizia. “3D MODELS FOR ALL: LOW-COST ACQUISITION THROUGH MOBILE DEVICES IN COMPARISON WITH IMAGE BASED TECHNIQUES. POTENTIALITIES AND WEAKNESSES IN CULTURAL HERITAGE DOMAIN.” International archives of the photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences. XLII-2/W8 (January 1, 2017): 221–228.

Eiby, Tine: SPURGT: Kolonitidens førerbunker. Weekendavisen. 19. juni 2020

Monographies

Chambers, Angelis. The Postcolonial Museum: The Arts of Memory and the Pressures of History. The Postcolonial Museum. 1st ed. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2014.

Ravn, Thomas Bloch. Museer for folk. Aarhus: Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2020.

Video

Facing History: Slavery Memorial in Nantes, France (Learning World S1E41, 3/3). Youtube. 2013
What are Sites of Conscience? Youtube, 2011

Multi-media

Delmont, Matthew F.: Black Quotidian – Everyday History in African-American Newspapers, Stanford University Press 2019

Richelsen , Caroline Augusta and Larsen, Kathrine Faust: The 1733 Uprising on St. John, 2020