Authors: Elisabeth Rios-Brooks
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rosana Resende
College: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
I propose that to radically decolonize means to go beyond raising awareness of the lack of alternative perspectives in which history is taught and represented in museums. Rather it calls on the need to socially and personally interrogate our own ingrained prejudices and biases. Further, it seeks to recognize the age-old colonialist structures of power, in which our society is grounded, as unequal and inherently racist to then to create a pedagogical framework that centers historically marginalized perspectives. This thesis will propose a methodology to decolonize museum exhibitions, primarily centering my experience at the National Museum of Natural History and Science in Lisbon, Portugal. I was tasked with diversifying the narratives presented in the exhibition “Moranças: Traditional Habitats of Guinea-Bissau” by executing my own oral history project titled “Voices from Guinea-Bissau.” I interviewed 5 Bissau-Guinean women to gain their perspective – this provided a deeper understanding of the images exhibited through their personal and ancestral anecdotes. I aim to propose a methodology to integrate a decolonial framework that can be used cultural heritage spaces. This thesis also hopes to encourage researchers, curators, and educators to remain critical of who is being represented, how they are being represented, and for what end.