Visualizing Roots and Itineraries of Indian Ocean Creolizations: Project for a Museum of the Present

Françoise Vergès


In this paper, I will discuss the methodological problems raised by the museography of a forthcoming museum on Reunion Island, the Maison des civilisations et de l'unité réunionnaise. One of the museum's goals is to retrace visually the itineraries of the processes of creolisation in the Indian Ocean that led to the creation of a singular culture, the Creole indiaoceanic culture. How to visualise the multiple layers of signification at work, the traces and fragments of languages, imaginaries, rituals, practices travelling throughout the ocean, the dynamic of loss, transformation, translation and recreation of forms, rituals, practices in the itineraries of people? I will first present the museum, its context and goals, then suggests ways of “making visual” elements of the Indian Ocean’s long history, and finally, discuss the challenges of imagining a museum of the present in the Indian Ocean world.

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