The School of Humanities invites you to attend the book launch of Museums as Agents for Social Change by Dr Njabulo Chipangura and Professor Jesmael Mataga.


Museums as Agents for Social Change is the first comprehensive text to examine museum practice in a decolonised moment, moving beyond known roles of object collection and presentation. Drawing on studies of Mutare Museum, a regional museum in Eastern Zimbabwe, this book considers how museums with inherited colonial legacies are dealing with their new environments.

The book provides an examination of Mutare Museum’s activism in engaging with topical issues affecting its surrounding community, and Chipangura and Mataga demonstrate how new forms of engagement are being deployed to attract new audiences, whilst dealing with issues such as economic livelihoods, poverty, displacement, climate change and education.

Illustrating how recent programmes have helped to reposition Mutare Museum as a decolonial agent of social change and an important community anchor institution, the book also demonstrates how other museums can move beyond the colonial preoccupation with the gathering of collections, conservation and presentation of cultural heritage to the public.

Museums as Agents for Social Change will primarily be of interest to academics and students working in the fields of museum and heritage studies, history, archaeology and anthropology. It should also be appealing to museum professionals around the world.

Short Author Biographies

Dr Njabulo Chipangura

Dr Njabulo Chipangura holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He was previously employed by the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) as a curator in the archaeology department for ten years. Njabu is interested in looking at the empirical ways by which the museum practice in Africa can be decolonised through epistemic and aesthetic disobedience by undoing earlier ways of knowledge production in collection practices and exhibitions. Thus, he has carried out research that looks at how national museums in Africa continue to reproduce colonial forms of knowledge and of being and at what it means to decolonise the museum practice.

Njabu has extensively published research papers that looks at ongoing debates around the coloniality of museums and associated knowledge production and representation practices, to imagine a decolonised museum in Africa. Some of his articles are included in journals such as Curator: The Museum Journal, Journal of Southern African Studies, Development Southern Africa Journal of Community Archaeology and HeritageMuseum International, Museum Management and Curatorship (Taylor and Francis) and International Journal of Intangible Heritage (National Museum of Folklore, South Korea).

He has also contributed articles in books such as Museums Activism, Robert Janes and Richard Sandell (eds), London: Routledge, pp. 164-173, and Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage Law and Heritage, Charlotte Waelde (eds), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.379-398. His first book entitled Museums as Agents for Social Change: Collaborative Programmes at the Mutare Museum was published by Routledge in April 2021.

Professor Jesmael Mataga

Professor Jesmael Mataga is an Associate Professor of Heritage Studies and the inaugural head of the School of Humanities at Sol Plaatje University (SPU). He previously worked for the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) and taught at the University of Zimbabwe and at the National University of Lesotho. Located in the emerging research focus on multidisciplinary “critical heritage” studies, and decolonisation, his research focuses on role and place of communities in heritage management. The work is aimed to support heritage management practices that addresses the critical challenges of our time and contexts, such as poverty & inequality, climate change, conflict, violence, migration and social justice.

Event Details

Date:  Friday, 22 October 2021

Time: 16h00

Venue: MS Teams Click here to join the meeting