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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by Bristol University Press 2023

Decolonising Initiatives in Action: From Theory to Practice at the Museum of Us

From the book Race and Sociocultural Inclusion in Science Communication

  • Brandie Macdonald and Micah Parzen


The Museum of Us (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man), located on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation in San Diego’s Balboa Park, is ten years into its journey towards becoming a more decolonial organisation. What started as a theoretical effort to move the organisation towards decolonisation as an endpoint gradually transformed into a practical effort involving a constant process of implementing an ever-growing set of decolonising initiatives. This chapter, co-authored by Brandie Macdonald (Choctaw/Chickasaw), former Senior Director of Decolonising Initiatives, and Micah Parzen, Chief Executive Officer, at the Museum of Us, makes the case that, at its core, decolonising requires an unyielding commitment to continuous action in a forward-moving process of reckoning with the ever-present traumatic legacy of colonialism. Specifically, the chapter describes several decolonising initiatives in action, which go well beyond the museum’s cultural resources stewardship practices to include everything from its interpretive, programmatic, governance, branding/marketing, human resources, and even fundraising practices. Each decolonising initiative has brought new learning to the organisation, which seeks to engage in a constant process of doing better as it knows better. The authors hope that readers of this chapter will emerge with a renewed sense of how they may develop and implement decolonising initiatives within their own institutional contexts and unique colonial histories.


decolonisationanticolonialdecolonial museumdecolonial praxiscolonial legacy
© Bristol University Press 2023, excluding Chapter 12 © Tibisay Sankatsing Nava, Roxanne-Liana Francisca, Krista T. Oplaat, and Tadzio Bervoets
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