Traces of Empires: Students Curate Exhibition at the University Museum

Photo: Universität Hamburg / Feuerböther Traces of Empires: the University Museu
Photo: Universität Hamburg / Feuerböther Traces of Empires: the University Museum’s new special exhibition

The Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, which resulted in, among other things, the occupation of the Philippines by the United States. Universität Hamburg students are now showcasing the consequences of this turning point, which reverberate to this day in the southeast Asian Pacific nation. The special exhibition will last through October 2024.

Students have designed 60 square meters, dividing the space into 4 topic areas and displaying objects, videos, and text to show the way that the United States above all’has influenced the most various areas of life in the island nation. For example, beauty pageants, initially modeled on the American competition, have now become integral to Philippine culture. The exhibition highlights the role they play in social cohesion, especially in the diaspora.

The representation of the Spanish-American War, the cause of which is still being discussed, is another exhibition topic. There are also contributions on the consequences of the war for the Caribbean and the Pacific region as well as the consequences of American occupation on the training of Filipino nurses and hospital staff. Today, Filipino nurses continue to migrate to the United States and Europe and in Germany, they are purposefully recruited due to the dearth of nurses and carers here.

The exhibition, which opened on 19 April 2024 at the University Museum (Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1), was developed by 8 students as part of a project seminar in the international Master of Arts in the Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia. They are focusing on Austronesian studies, meaning Indonesian, Malayan, and Filipino studies. The Filipino embassy in Germany and the Hamburg Society of Austronesian Studies are supporting the exhibition.

-I think it’s important for the students to develop a deep understanding of the cultural developments and the long-term consequences of colonialism on these developments. Working on and presenting topics independently so that even people without knowledge of them understand them is incredibly useful,- explains Elsa Clavé, junior professor of Austronesian studies at the Asien-Afrika-Institut of Universität Hamburg. Clavé initiated the project.

The Long Night of Museums at Universität Hamburg

The special exhibition will be viewable at the University Museum for 6 months and will take part in Hamburg’s Long Night of Museums on 27 April 2024. -We have created an extensive program highlighting student work,- explains Dr. Antje Nagel, head of the University Museum.

In addition to the special exhibition, visitors will be treated from 6 pm to 1 am to rap tours of colonial and University history by Sherlock F; insight into sex research in Hamburg; quiz tours; and other guided tours to see exciting objects from the University’s history such as the banner proclaiming -Under these robes-1,000 years of rot.- The astronomy park at the Hamburg Observatory is also taking part in the Long Night of Museums and is giving the public a behind-the-scenes look at its research. One of the questions is whether we would even recognize other life in the Universe.

The complete program for the University Museum and the Hamburg Observatory at the Long Night of Museums is available online.