Decolonisation in Colonial Institutions: Reparative Approaches to Philippine Collections in a U.S. University

Key information

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Virtual Event
Event type

About this event

Ricky Punzalan (University of Michigan)

This event is part of the Decolonising Curating and the Museum in Southeast Asia lecture series .

Mrs. Worcester with Igorot girls who are showing her how to make baskets” (Dean C. Worcester, Photo 10N027, scanned from original glass plate negative, University of Michigan Museum Anthropological Archaeology).


The sizable Philippine collections at the University of Michigan underscore this institution’s role in U.S. colonial expansion. Michigan faculty, students, and alumni came to the Philippines to teach, conduct field research, establish business ventures, and participate in colonial administration. This involvement resulted in the accumulation of one of the largest Philippine collections in North America. It is time for the University to address its colonial complicity in the formation of these collections by developing decolonial and anti-racist policies and practices. This presentation will discuss the current efforts to develop alternative ways to represent and provide access to Philippine materials held by the University’s Bentley Historical Library, the Special Collections Research Center, and the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. This project asks: What constitutes reparative work in the decolonization of the University’s Philippine collections? This effort will: 1. define what it means to pursue decolonial praxis for Philippine collections; 2. identify institutional obligations and articulating reparative work; 3. reimagine community engagement; and finally, 4. decenter colonial provenance to better represent Indigenous communities and knowledge to understand the full extent of the collection.

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Decolonisation in Colonial Institutions: Reparative Approaches to Philippine Collections in a U.S. University

Speaker Biography

Ricardo Punzalan is Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan and teaches archives and digital curation. He studies access and use of digitized anthropological archives and ethnographic data by academic and Indigenous researchers. He is currently a research associate at the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives and Council member of the Society of American Archivists.

Discussant Biography

Dr Cristina Martinez-Juan is a Senior Teaching and Research Fellow and the project head for Philippine Studies at SOAS (PSS), an interdisciplinary forum for Philippine-related teaching, research and cultural production in the UK. She is the principal investigator for Mapping Philippine Material Culture, an open access knowledge-base that sources annotative knowledge from cultural originators in the Philippines and South East Asia.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies and SOAS Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme

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