Pieces of a Nation: South Sudanese Heritage and Museum Collections [Hardback]

Dr. Zoe Cormack(Editor); Dr. Cherry Leonardi(Editor)

ISBN: 9789464260137 | Published by: Sidestone Press | Year of Publication: 2021 | 212p, H10 x W7, 36 full color/14 b&w
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Paperback - ISBN: 9789464260120

Pieces of a Nation


South Sudan became independent in 2011 after decades of rebel wars with the Government of Sudan. Independence prompted discussions about South Sudanese identity and shared history, in which material objects and cultural heritage featured as vitally important resources. However, the long-term effects of colonialism and conflict had largely precluded any concerted attempts to preserve material culture within the country; museums remained in Khartoum, the capital of the formally united Sudan. Furthermore, tens of thousands of objects had been removed from what is now South Sudan during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to museum and private collections around the world.

Up to now there have been few attempts to reconnect the history of these South Sudanese museum collections with people in or from South Sudan. Pieces of a Nation is the first extended study of South Sudanese material cultural heritage in museum collections and beyond.

The chapters discuss a range of different objects and practices – from museum objects taken from South Sudan in the context of enslavement and colonialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to efforts by South Sudanese to preserve their country’s cultural heritage during recent conflicts.

With essays by 32 contributors in Europe, South Sudan, Uganda, and Australia, this book delivers a unique range of perspectives on museum objects from South Sudan and on heritage practices in the country and among its diaspora. Written by curators, academics, heritage professionals, and artists in accessible and engaging style, it is intended for scholars, museum professionals, and a wide range of individuals interested in South Sudan, African arts and cultures, the history of museum collecting and colonialism, and/or the role of material heritage in peacebuilding and refugee contexts.

At a time of widespread, prominent debates over the provenance of museum collections from Africa and calls for restitution, this book provides an in-depth empirical study of the circumstances and practices that led to South Sudanese objects entering foreign museum collections and the importance of these objects in South Sudan and around the world today.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
About the Contributors

Zoe Cormack and Cherry Leonardi

C19th Commercial Entanglements

From ‘Bush’ to ‘Boudoir’
Zachary Kingdon

‘A very Singular Helmet…’
Jeremy Coote and Alison Petch

A Headdress of Human Hair
Nadja Haumberger

Travelling and Talking Objects

The ‘Omdurman’ Slit-Drum
John Mack

A Talking Drum
Samuel Zanunga Biegene, Takido Zambia Sebit and Sebit Fandas

Music that Breathes Life
Justin Billy Buwali

Like Doves in Flight
John Ryle

Resistance and (Re)appropriations

The Musealization of the Gift
Paola Ivanov

‘Captured’ at the Battle of Omdurman
Nick Badcott

Car Koryom’s Fly Whisk
Douglas Johnson

Small Drum, Wooden and Hide, variable Pitch
Richard Vokes

Problems of Representation

‘Spears’ that are not Spears
Jok Madut Jok

Out of Frame
Chris Morton

A Dinka Madonna?
Ludmilla Jordanova

An Unused Hunting Spear
Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp

Markets and Collecting

The Potter of Li Rangu
Inbal Livne

The Market in Memory
Zoe Cormack

Containing the Harvest
Patti Langton

Of Replicas, Refusals and Resistance
Elfatih Atem and Rebecca Lorins

Heritage in War and Peace

New Sudan Ephemera
Nicki Kindersley and Yosa Wawa

Heritage in Displacement
Deng Nhial Chioh

A European Union Jerry-Can
Adebo Nelson Abiti and John Giblin

Because the World is not Ending
Florence Henry Lokule and Alex Miskin

Afterword: A World in Process: Recovering Agency through Objects
Annie Coombes


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