The cox collection, the museums of Malawi and the politics of repatriation, 1892-2016
A wide range of scholarly inquiries have engaged with how museums all over the world deal with societal issues and the way the public interacts with the museum as a space of transaction and knowledge production. In Malawi, only a small proportion of literature deals with the museums and their relationship to the wider understanding of the country's history and the question of nationalism. However, as modern museums are transforming and reconfiguring themselves in dealing with histories of collection and calls for repatriation of ethnographic objects and human remains from their European counterparts are being made, there is no scholarly work or a nuanced representation on these issues for the Museums of Malawi. This study engages with a biography of a collection to think about museums, nationalism and the politics of repatriation. This biography begins when this collection of objects was collected from the tea plantations of Malawi and how it metamorphosizes from souvenirs to artifacts of rarity and then to "national treasures." The life of the collection is analysed and understood through its multiple journeys from Malawi to Europe and then to the United States of America where it attains a new meaning in a museum before its return to Malawi for a nationalist cause.