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‘The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised’ is a video essay adapted from an article written by Sumaya Kassim (Media Diversified, 2017) on the The Past Is Now, an exhibition which sought to decolonise Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's collections.
The film uses archival footage and critical race theory to consider the circularity of racism. It is a hostile time for black and non-white people in the UK, with the threat of deportation hanging over members of the Caribbean community, as well as the BBC’s choice to air Enoch Powell’s infamous Rivers of Blood speech, epitomising everyday and institutional racism.
Much of the debate about racism in the media relies on a decontextualized ‘perpetual present’ which denies the importance of history and causality. Many are ‘shocked’ by the news of deportations and the callous treatment of refugees. This film asks: why the shock?
By providing some context through Birmingham, a city central to Empire, the film continues the arguments of the exhibition – the past is now. Who is benefiting from "decolonising"? How can we prevent the co-option of radical perspectives and activities?
The Museum Will Not Be Decolonised is written and narrated by Sumaya Kassim and produced by Arwa Aburawa.
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