The Settler Colonial Exhibitionary Complex

This lecture is held in-person and is part of the Fall 2022 Sciame Lecture Series, titled "Border Crossings: Architecture and Migration in the Americas."

"The Settler Colonial Exhibitionary Complex: Argentina, 1888": Thinking about the project of an Indigenous modernity, Aymara Bolivian scholar Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui has described how this project emerges from a non-linear understanding of history, in which the past-future is contained in the present. In this talk, León reflects on the historiographic possibilities of this approach through her research on the Museum of La Plata. This building can be understood as an apparatus that allows us to trace different networks of exchange operating at vast distances in time and place: from the British Empire to the Argentinian pampas, from Pleistocene bones to the nineteenth-century wars against the peoples of the Americas -- and  finally, from an imaginary remote past to a settler colonial present. Standing at the crux of these networks, the museum was instrumental in dissociating Indigenous populations from their contemporary context and presenting them instead as subjects belonging to a distant past. In doing so, the institution was and remains complicit with processes of genocide and empire expansion, linking these networks of resource extraction and industrialization to the decimation of one of the oldest populations of the American continent.

Dean Marta Gutman and Visiting Scholar William Brinkman-Clark will introduce the speaker.