Post-colonialism: Dead or Alive? How Indigenous Peoples Voices are represented in rock art at National Museums

Anne Jodon Cole

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingResearchpeer-review


Session: Experiences of Colonisation: Rock art as a ‘subaltern’ narrative of Indigenous and First Nation Peoples lived experiences during colonial times.

This article extends the discussion of rock art to the context of its representation in national museums. The article is based on five-years of doctoral research involving four museums on three different continents. National museums need to be sensitive to the complexities of representing cultural identities; however, too often narratives are conveyed through Eurocentric voices, which limits their social capital. Combining the theories of social semiotics and cultural historical activity theory, a model was developed to assess the process of representation, the Zone of Mediational Knowledge, which is viable for practitioners of rock art and museums alike. Western knowledge and Indigenous Peoples knowledge differ and acknowledges both tangible and intangible heritage. Collaborating with source communities needs to be an active part of the curating process and of an archaeologist’s process of the contextual understanding of objects. The study found three out of the four museums had little or no representation of rock art. In conclusion, the national voice influenced what narratives were presented and the extent the Indigenous Peoples voices were empowered in the process of representation of their culture and history, especially their history during and after colonisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication20th International Rock Art Congress IFRAO 2018 - Book of Abstracts : Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
EditorsMarisa Giorgi, Ludwig Jaffe, Valeria Damioli, Paolo Medici
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationCapo di Ponte, Italy
PublisherEdizioni Del Centro
Publication date1 Jul 2018
ISBN (Print)978-88-86621-41-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018
Event20th International Rock Art Congress - Darfo, Italy
Duration: 29 Aug 20182 Sep 2018


Conference20th International Rock Art Congress
Internet address


  • Zone of Mediational Knowledge
  • Indigenous Knowledge
  • Intangible & Tangible heritage
  • social capital

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