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Indiana Jones’ Colonizer Legacy – Black Girl Nerds


Indiana Jones’ Colonizer Legacy – Black Girl Nerds

In Black Panther’s now famous museum scene, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) responds to the museum curator’s statement, “These items aren’t for sale,” with the ever resonant: “How do you think your ancestors got these? You think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it like they took everything else?”

In three concise sentences, Killmonger summarizes all that is wrong with the modern museum and the colonizer mentality that displaces sacred items far from the peoples to whom they belong, with no recourse for return or even acknowledgement of the cultural and social theft that has occurred in the process. 

Over the course of four films and a fifth on the way in 2023, archaeologist-adventurer Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is positioned as an American hero as he travels the world in search of objects and information that he claims will contribute to the collective and global knowledge bases represented by the Western university system.

“It belongs in a museum,” Dr. Jones constantly says, firmly situating himself in the exact same camp as those whose cultural appropriations he is constantly fighting against. According to Dr. Jones, these artifacts don’t belong in just any museum, they specifically belong in his university museum, where he can conveniently get credit for securing them. Also, Indiana Jones seems to have forgotten that the museums of his own era aren’t exactly accessible to general audiences, let alone the peoples from whom the objects have been taken. 

From the perspectives of those who have been violently colonized and experienced the horrors of forced assimilation and even genocide, the modern museum is not the bastion of knowledge that Indiana Jones and his allies pretend it to be. Rather, it’s a glorified display of wanton grave-robbing from around the world, the results of the looting of sacred sites and culturally valuable items justified through a lens of white supremacy.

There is very little in a museum that actually belongs there. But through the Indiana Jones franchise, the exact opposite is promoted as Dr….

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