Decolonising Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies Conference

Decolonising Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies Conference, Deakin University, Melbourne (Burwood), Wednesday, November 13 – Thursday, November 14 2019

Keynote Presentations


Steve Brown (GML Heritage) and Denis Rose (Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation)

Julie Gough (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery)

Philip Schorch (Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany)

Conference Themes

It is now 40 years since Deakin University began its Museum Studies program in 1979. In celebrating this milestone, we are organising a conference that responds to the enormous changes over that time, both in the fields of museum practice and the wider field of cultural heritage. Given our location in Australia, a settler society, our focus takes its bearing from the increasing pressure on museums, archives and heritage places to ‘decolonise’ their practices and relations with Indigenous and First Nations People. The ‘Decolonising Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies’ conference thus seeks to broaden and deepen the cross-disciplinary and cross-sector conversation about new practices, interpretations and lives for collected materials across the GLAM sector, as well as heritage places shaped by colonial contexts. Informed by histories of the production of colonial knowledge and responding to new and interdisciplinary directions in collection theory and research, heritage management and interpretation, this conference will bring together researchers, practitioners, industry partners, and artists to discuss the critical elements of working with and through collections and heritage places within a Decolonising impulse.

We are particularly interested in the ongoing debates and innovations that have arisen from confronting the colonial history of many collections and heritage places. Can collecting institutions, such as museums and archives, be ‘decolonised’ or are more radical decentrings of institutional power required? Can heritage places that speak to the complexity of the colonial encounter be interpreted in ways that respect and advocate for Indigenous Perspectives on those encounters? What does Indigenous sovereignty mean for scholars, practitioners and institutions engaging with or holding collections in Australia and elsewhere? What does it mean for those managing Indigenous heritage places as well as places of shared heritage? How can we do a better job of embodying Indigenous knowledges? We are also concerned with new technologies and creative responses to collections. What is gained, lost or hidden through the digitization and/or online exhibition of materials? What are the technological risks and opportunities facing collections today? How are artists and other creative responders engaging with collections to illuminate, challenge and inform? How do we work with the next generation of professionals to address these issues? 

Registration and full Program available here



Deakin University

221 Burwood Highway

Burwood, VIC 3125

Australia (map)


Woman sitting in museum looking at four paintings


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