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A Place That Matters YetJohn Gubbins’s MuseumAfrica in the Postcolonial World$
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Sara Byala

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226030272

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226030449.001.0001

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Becoming “Treasures and Trash”: The Africana Museum in the Johannesburg Public Library, 1935–1977

Becoming “Treasures and Trash”: The Africana Museum in the Johannesburg Public Library, 1935–1977

Chapter:
(p.109) Three Becoming “Treasures and Trash”: The Africana Museum in the Johannesburg Public Library, 1935–1977
Source:
A Place That Matters Yet
Author(s):

Sara Byala

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226030449.003.0004

This chapter charts the history of the Africana Museum from its founder’s death until its attainment of a permanent home in order to trace the museum’s transformation from a space structured around three-dimensional ideals to one that supported binaries. It is argued here that this metamorphosis turned the Africana Museum into an institution that actually supported the logic of racism and then apartheid. Further, it is revealed in this chapter that this conversion did not take place under the auspices of overtly racist bureaucracy. Rather, and ironically, the Africana Museum’s morphing into an engine for racist ends happened under the guise of liberalism. By detailing this process, this chapter demonstrates that there are limitations to liberalism’s ability to counter racism.

Keywords:   africana museum, binaries, Johannesburg Public Library, racism, apartheid, racist bureaucracy, liberalism

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