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OBJECT DIASPORAS, RESOURCING COMMUNITIES: Sierra Leonean Collections in the Global Museumscape



This article is concerned with pursuing the issue of transnational museological relationality and responsibility in the context of Sierra Leonean cultural heritage. In particular it draws upon vocabularies more commonly associated with the study of human migration to consider both historical and contemporary transnational flows of Sierra Leonean material culture and associated knowledges. It does so in order to help rethink the status, value, and potential of ethnographic collections in the world's museums for different stakeholders. Focusing on Sierra Leonean collections in three European museums, the article explores the historical formation and distribution of this “object diaspora,” and acknowledges its entanglement in the networks, flows, and power disparities of colonialism. Rather than arguing for repatriation, however, a case is made for recognizing the value of these collections in their diasporic locations as a resource for contemporary Sierra Leonean communities, not least through the “remittance corridors” they are able to open.

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