Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

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Samuel Ayobami Akinruli, Luana Carla Martins Campos Akinruli

Last modified: 2017-12-18


Objetives: This paper proposes possibilities of ethnographic practices in the context of cultural heritage studies, focusing on the museological collection, taking as a case study an ethnography of the objects musealization practices in the Museum called do “Museu Casa de Lembranças e Memórias Chico Xavier”, located in the city of Uberaba - Minas Gerais, Brazil. In order to do so, we will seek to promote an interdisciplinary discussion between the fields of anthropology, ethnography, history, Museology and museography, which are based on the dialogue between the materiality and immateriality of collections and practices of organization and museum inventory, in order to identify the forms of interaction, reflection, communication and social representations of cultural heritage. The balance of the institution’s founding process, of the composition of the collection and of its inventory process, interacts with different levels of temporality and allows dialogue between the construction process of certain memories that are in open dispute with various agents and agencies of society.

The purpose of this approach is to discuss the association of cultural inventory and diagnosis with the implementation of security, protection, safeguard and broad access to information and the collection of both material and immaterial assets, based on the convergence of some specific methodologies in the field of human sciences, especially associated with cultural heritage, that integrate in a dialogic way the large volume information related to the cultural heritage of intangible and tangible nature. It was considered that in order to obtain effective knowledge, identification, preservation and management of the collection, and taking its huge size into account, the volume and scope of the cultural heritage as a conjunction of objects, thus, the ethnographic basis should be the point of connection between the applicable methodologies used by the regulatory organs at the municipal, state and federal levels.


Methods: Ethnography makes us question not only the themes, approaches and ways of describing, but the way of constructing the narrative itself, the agencies that are not only human, the supposed separation of theory and practice, as well as the field and ethnographic writing. To this end, questions are raised about the sociological unit in its research reality, in a way that the displacement of the category group / collective, private / public; material / immaterial occurs. Experimental and ethnographic writing, when problematized, call into question the very mechanism of research and the model of scientific production - including that of anthropologists - based on a discourse of authority. It is not just about style, semantic choices, or textual formats, but ethnography promotes an invitation to think about the researcher's performance.

The results of the research demonstrate that ethnography can promote a relevant counterpoint on the universalization of concepts, reinforcing the necessary reference of decolonization of methodologies. How do we create the fictions about the worlds of others, whereas the natives cannot express themselves through their own categories, concepts, and methods? As collaborative projects, they are very close to the natives' point of view, without, however, giving them, after all, the seal on knowledge, given that the researcher ends up appearing as a mediator and translator and, therefore, who interprets, cuts, edits the content formalized in the text as final product? Writing can approximate or distance / exoticize the other, since mechanisms of discursive potential, of play between contexts, are triggered.

Within different models of ethnography possible in museums, how do the native categories begin to dialogue, therefore, in the double objectivity / subjectivity, given that in addition to simple ethnographic data, they deal with concepts and theories understood in the terms of others? Therefore, in this field of speaking with another, not only on the other, the bridge between anthropological theory with its related fields, ethnography and museology having profitable fields. The displacement of the axis promotes the search for another balance between what is relevant and structuring for the studied group. The polyphony becomes beyond an experience, it is the genesis, the narrative model, the paradigm of knowledge construction.

This research bases its investigation beyond the analysis (identification, selection, clipping, description) of objects, but in relations with people from different social circles and their different sectors, agents and agencies, as a way of understanding this world and its relations between subject / object, the material / immaterial, the public / private. In such a way, the ethnography of a contemporary museum promotes the debate of its specific social practices related to the modality of museum associated with it.

Main results and conclusions: The research and management of the collection evidences both the process of knowledge construction, which is achieved not only through its material collection, formed by a diverse set of mobile and immovable cultural heritage, but also, and perhaps most importantly, by the set of experiences and experiences that conform a certain history and memory together with a community. In this process, the notion of social cohesion is relevant in the process of selection, categorization of cultural assets in conjunction with certain value regimes, in order to converge artifacts into consecrated goods by means of collectivist logic; cultural expressions and heritage assets knowhow; rituals in public performances; people in community representatives and mouthpiece.

In the end, it is also important to establish an interface with interdisciplinary reflections between museology, museums, heritage and collections, in an attempt to collaborate with the dialogical reflections between the material and the immaterial culture.