Project Researchers

Margareta von Oswald

© Tal Adler

CARMAH members’ portraits were captured in March 2017, on the ‘New55 PN’ – a new handmade instant film for large format, 4”x5” cameras. This film was launched through crowdfunding in 2014 as a reinvention of the discontinued, legendary ‘Type 55’ by Polaroid. Since the sixties, Polaroid’s unique ‘Type 55’ starred in many artists’ and professional photographers’ projects. ‘Type 55’ provided both an instant print and a superb negative from which more (and larger) prints could be made. Like so many photographic material in the last 10-15 years, ‘Type 55’ was discontinued in 2009. Tal Adler decided to use the ‘New55 PN’ not only for its beautiful quality but also to reflect, and participate in, the revival of (photographic) heritage.

I am an anthropologist, postdoctoral researcher and curator, based at CARMAH. I am also an associate member at the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin. Currently, I work as Curatorial Research Fellow of Mindscapes, an international cultural programme that aims to support a transformation in how we understand, address and talk about mental health. The project was initiated and funded by the Wellcome Trust. The project’s point of departure in Berlin was the exhibition YOYI! Care, Repair, Heal at Gropius Bau (Sept 2022 – Jan 2023). As part of the exhibition, I developed the Resonance Room with Diana Mammana, as well as accompanying public programming. 

My research is concerned with how people engage with difficult pasts, particularly colonial, in the present – asking how museums can become truly democratic places that effect change. In my recently published, open-access book Working Through Colonial Collections. An ethnography of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, I discuss the possibilities and limits of engaging with colonialism in ethnological museums today, based on a two-year ethnography of museum practices in the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. Other recent, open-access publications that I both edited with Jonas Tinius are Awkward archives. Ethnographic drafts for a modular curriculum (Archive books, 2022) and Across Anthropology. Troubling Colonial Legacies, Museums, and the Curatorial (Leuven University Press, 2020).

From 2016-2021, I was a project researcher and doctoral candidate at CARMAH’s Making Differences. Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st Century. Within the research group Transforming the Ethnographic“ (with Jonas Tinius and Larissa Förster), we engaged with how the legacies of anthropological knowledge production and collecting are negotiated today, taking into account developments and perspectives from the political, activist, research, artistic and curatorial spheres.