Dr Mirjam Brusius, Research Fellow in Colonial and Global History at the German Historical Institute London shares details of this dynamic grassroots publication project.
The ‘Global South’ revisits the BBC/British Museum’s ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’
How many stories can a museum object have? Our departure point is the 2010 BBC Radio 4 programme (and subsequent book) A History of the World in 100 Objects narrated by then British Museum Director Neil MacGregor. Providing a colossal platform for the British Museum, the project reinstated the idea of the museum as a ‘view from nowhere’ and everywhere at the same time. It was presented as a place to see the world; yet without any reflection on how the institution itself obtained and reframed the objects in order to create its own seemingly universal narrative. Ten years on and the world has changed. Museums are under increasing pressure to decolonise, to repatriate and to better represent. Our project turns to the formerly subaltern stories museums in ‘the West’ have left out. How can previously excluded voices be empowered to tell their own histories about these objects? This dynamic, long-term and multiple format publication project hopes to achieve more than an alternative history of the British Museum. Instead we will work towards a fusion of object stories and present legacies in museums through and with scholars, curators, and artists in and from the ‘Global South’. Our ‘new histories’ must be not just different methodologically and multilingual, but also dynamic and open for additions and narratives that others might want to add in future. Together we can show that one museum object can have 100 histories and exist in 100 worlds. Learn more.