“Imperialism or Advocacy?
Ambiguous Encounters. The Government Anthropologist and the Eze Nri, 1911″

Paul Basu, University Bonn

He is an anthropologist specialising in critical heritage, museum and material culture studies in transcultural contexts. He draws upon a wide range of ethnographic, historical and participatory methods to explore how pasts are differently materialized and mediated in the present, and how they shape futures.

Basu’s research examines the complex ways in which natural as well as cultural heritage is entangled in shifting regimes of value and geopolitical configurations. His work has often involved re-engagements with colonial archives and collections relating to West Africa, exploring their ambiguous status as both sites of epistemic violence and, potentially, resources for communities to recover cultural histories, memories and alternative ways of knowing and being in the world.

Basu is director of the Global Heritage Lab, which brings together an international team of researchers to experiment with decolonial approaches to activating the pluriversal possibilities of historical collections and archives, not least to address the social, environmental and planetary crises of our time.

(Photo: Meike Böschemeyer / Uni Bonn)