Completed research projects

The State of Things: Openings towards Methodological Development in Research on Ethnographic Collections

A research project located at the Museum of Ethnography and the Museum of World Culture and funded by the Swedish Arts Council's resources for central museum research in 2011 and 2012. Lotten Gustafsson Reinius at the Museum of Ethnography and Adriana Muñoz at the Museum of World Culture led the project.

The overall mutual aspiration was to develop a method for the revitalisation of museum researches on objects and collections. The Museum of World Culture, in collaboration with the University of Gothenburg, was holding a round table meeting on the subject of collections research in the spring of 2012 to which a number of international experts were invited.

The Museum of Ethnography extends the multidisciplinary debate on ritually and religiously charged objects (initiated in the research project 'Sacred things') by further analyses of existing museum collections. Anthropologist Anna Laine and Religions Expert Tina Hamrin Dahl have been running their own separate subprojects since autumn 2011. Anna Laine's project discusses culturally diverse sensory hierarchies and meetings between mission and Hinduism based on religiously charged Tamil collections from the Swedish Church. Tina Hamrin Dahl's project expands on the problematic concept of fetishism in a study based on Samoan bowls, the many uses of which include the ritual ingestion of the narcotic drink Kava. Project results and articles are available on this website.

Sacred things in the post-secular society

Funded by the Swedish Arts Council and conducted at the Museum of Ethnography in 2010 and 2011.

The project focused on the many ritually and religiously charged objects found in museum collections and how these can be used pedagogically and in exhibitions. A societal background to the project was a growing need for a mutual understanding and meeting places in a multi-religious Sweden. Two external researchers participated in the project – film critic Ylva Habel, lecturer in media and communication studies (in her study leading a discussion on the popular cultural transformation of the folk religion 'vodou' to the somewhat more unpleasant practices of voodoo) and ethnologist Erik Ottoson Trovalla (who studied reactions in Nigeria to the Mohammed cartoons published in Denmark) – each of whom with a subproject on how objects are charged and recharged at global crossroads of politics, religion and contrasting perspectives. The project was lead by curator Lotten Gustafsson Reinius and comprised of regular seminars with the museum staff, which subsequently served as a basis for the planning of forthcoming exhibitions and led to programme activities. In May 2011, an international two-day seminar titled 'Sacred things and secular frames' was arranged at the Museum of Ethnography with four guest speakers and around twenty participants from Sweden. The project also resulted in articles by Habel and Ottoson Trovalla. These are available on this website as open access publications in two languages.

The Ancestor in the show-case – a post-colonial analysis of museum collections in Sweden from the Congo Free State

Conducted at the Museum of Ethnography/the Swedish National Museums of World Culture in 2004 – 2005. Funded by: The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

Around 10,000 objects acquired by Swedes operating in the Congo Free State (1885-1907) are housed at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm and the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. These objects have changed hands many times and also wandered between a number of different contexts, media and narratives. During the research project, single objects, exhibitions and collective biographies were made the object of study from the perspectives of contemporary museology, media history and the theory of materiality. The overall aim of the study was to understand the roles in Sweden of these Congolese objects acquired by Swedish sailors, missionaries and militaries in Sweden. The project gave new insights into the role of Sweden in the notorious colonisation of Congo. However, it also contributed scientifically to the debate on collections and exhibitions as a particular kind of media. It was also a methodological argument for using concrete objects as a resource and basis for cultural and historical analyses.

The project has featured in many national and international contexts and resulted in a number of scientific articles in English, Swedish and French. In addition, the project was incorporated into the planning of the Nordic travelling exhibition 'Traces of Congo' and also served as a basis for the permanent exhibition "The Missionary Exhibition of 1907" at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm.