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Echoes of the “Primitive” in France’s Move to Postcoloniality: The Musée du Quai Branly

Author(s): Herman Lebovics

Journal: Globality Studies Journal : Global History, Society, Civilization
ISSN 1557-0266

Volume: 2007;
Issue: Feb5;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Keywords: French museums | Guy Debord | Jacques Chirac | Jean Nouvel | Musée du Quai Branly | postcoloniality | “primitive” art

With the opening in June 2006 of the Musée du Quai Branly in a prime location in Paris, the French government—in the case, President Jacques Chirac—has made a major statement of its interest in being a champion of the lands of the global South. Cultural objects from the Americas, Africa, the Pacific, and Asia are displayed in a setting that manifests architects Jean Nouvel’s vision of the dark world whence they come. The museum is disappointing in a number of ways for France’s goal of postcoloniality and as a showcase for the once colonized cultures. Neither primarily an exhibition of cultural objects nor a celebration of the art of the South, Nouvel and his team have created an unfortunate spectacle.
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