Who tells your history? and other questions

  “Who tells your history?”, says another intruiging exhibition in the Stockholm National Historical Museum / Historiska Museet (http://www.historiska.se ). I don’t know what musea are like in your country. My experience is that they are usually knowledgeable on the subject they talk about and also a bit arrogant: they are the experts, the way they present things is right. The Stockholm National Historical Museum is a pleasant surprise, unique in its kind. Here is a museum that questions its own assumptions.
For example the way an archaeologist looks at a prehistoric grave is not just defined by ‘objective’ knowledge but also by his concept of the world he knows. So when he tries to find out whether a prehistoric grave belongs to a man or a woman, he might follow rules like: ‘ah this is a needle, so it was a woman’ and ‘ah this is a weapon, so it was a man’. How can we be sure that this is prehistoric reality and not the archaeologist’s concept of the world, projected on prehistoric times? We can’t, the Stockholm National Historical Museum simply says. This museum does something more courageous than I even saw a museum do: contest its own authority, expertise and knowledge. Isn’t that a great example for the 21st century where certainties have diminished anyway!
It is not just a non-issue that they are talking about, as you can read in a previous blog of my hand, april 2011: https://grethevangeffen.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/gay-caveman-in-czech-republic/
The Stockholm National Historic Museum makes this matter personal (see the photograph above). Many people define their identity by the (national) history; be it viking, be it VOC mentality, be it slavery, be it the Ottoman empire. But as the museum says, it matters who defined that history with what concept. This museum questions the possibility to define your identity through history, as it might be a construct rather than a truth or reality. I loved it – I found it very intriguing. If you prefer questions to answers, don’t forget to pass by this museum when you are in Stockholm. Enjoy!

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