The South Sudan Museum Network is an international research network connecting academics, museum practitioners and heritage stakeholders to develop knowledge about South Sudanese museum collections across Europe.
The Network is the first initiative to connect these dispersed collections with South Sudanese communities, addressing not only the collections’ academic significance, but also their potential contribution to developing more inclusive understandings of South Sudanese history and identity. Key focuses are on the history of the collections, their display. Accessibility and future agendas for research and engagement.
The first phase of this project was supported by the British Institute in Eastern Africa (2015-2016). Zoe Cormack conducted a scoping study of major South Sudanese collections in European and Russian Museums. The findings of this study are available as a working inventory of South Sudanese museum collections in Europe and Russia.
Download the full report
The second phase was supported by an AHRC network grant, “New Explorations into South Sudanese collections in European Museums” (2017-2018).
The principle aims of this phase were to:
- Collaboratively develop knowledge about collections of South Sudanese material culture in Europe to produce more intellectually rigorous understandings of South Sudan’s past.
- Connect institutions holding major collections with each other and with South Sudanese academics and practitioners, stimulating meaningful partnerships between different stakeholders in South Sudan’s cultural heritage.
- Bring new historical perspectives into research on ethnographic collections and artefacts.
- Raise the profile of South Sudan’s material cultural heritage in public and academic networks in Europe and South Sudan.
The AHRC funding was used to hold three international workshops in Durham, Oxford and Juba. These workshops addressed the history of collections from South Sudan, ways of working with the objects and priorities for reconnecting the collections with communities in South Sudan. They brought together curators from museum in Europe and Russia holding significant South Sudanese collections, academic specialists and South Sudanese heritage practitioners, creatives and diaspora.
Download the full reports
Workshop 1 – South Sudanese collections and their histories (Durham University, 5-6 July 2017)
Workshop 2 – Working with South Sudanese collections (Pitt Rivers Museum, 10-11 January 2018)
Workshop 3 – Connecting museum collections with South Sudan (UNESCO South Sudan Country Office, 28-29 June 2018)
There is a dedicated website collating information about the network and with further resources. A collaborative book resulting from the AHRC network is currently in progress with an estimate publication date at the end of 2019.
Zoe Cormack participated in the British Academy Summer Showcase 2018 with an exhibit about South Sudanese art and material culture in Italian museums. The display invited visitors to consider the history and possible futures for African collections in European museums. It drew heavily on discussions from the South Sudan Museum Network and research conducted in Rome and Venice during a fellowship at the British School at Rome.
Network participants developed a diaspora film workshop at the Pitt Rivers Museum in November 2018. Over two days, South Sudanese diaspora members in the UK created a film exploring the Pitt Rivers Museum’s objects and photographs and what they mean for community members today. The film was sponsored by Mellon Foundation via The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) Global South Visiting Professor scheme that facilitated Prof Jok Madut Jok’s affiliation to the Museum in 2018. Film training was provided by Film Oxford.
<iframe src="https://www.africanstudies.ox.ac.uk/%3Ca%20href%3D"https://player.vimeo.com/video/306151198">https://player.vimeo.com/video/306151198" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="https://www.africanstudies.ox.ac.uk/%3Ca%20href%3D"https://vimeo.com/306151198">https://vimeo.com/306151198">Exploring our South Sudanese Identity at the Pitt Rivers Museum</a> from <a href="https://www.africanstudies.ox.ac.uk/%3Ca%20href%3D"https://vimeo.com/pittriversmuseum">https://vimeo.com/pittriversmuseum">Pitt Rivers Museum</a> on <a href="https://www.africanstudies.ox.ac.uk/%3Ca%20href%3D"https://vimeo.com">https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>
Several other future activities are currently in development. Contact Zoe Cormack for more information