Soft power and emerging museology

Text: Serge Renimel

Resplandor y Soledad de Cai Guo Qiang
Resplandor y Soledad de Cai Guo Qiang. Photo : Carlos Alcocer by-nc-nd –

How long further the new lords of the world will need our talents?

Since the end of the past century, museum professionnals witness, and sometimes take an active part in a kind of ‘museological conquest of Asia’ which is unambiguously moved by our cultural imperialism. Since a half millenium, the world conquest by the four major imperial powers of Europe launched and consolidated globalization, and financed their golden ages. Today the faithfully cloned historical pattern of trading and cultural colonization of the mid- and far-eastern areas stays, although on a much more symbolic scale.

Presently, european expeditions no longer roam the Indian Ocean onboard of kraekships or of galions, as their modest avatars ‘don’t rock the boat’: nowadays, they fly in business class and enjoy substancial fees, but they are still focusing mainly on the same continental areas. In the field of exhibitions and museums, the occidental governments or big institutions delegate museum professionals as diplomatic agents, mainly to facilitate the globalization of our cultural stereotypes. From China and the East Indies, up to the Arabian Gulf, many european freelance adventurers are hunting business profits as a first priority. They attempt to negociate deals for art exhibitions which were initially produced for a very restricted fraction of european and north american audiences, but whose financial balance on their domestic markets is increasingly risky now. Continue reading