Colonial Fantasies in Historical House Museums. The Cases of the Henryk Sienkiewicz Museum in Oblęgorek and the Arkady Fiedler Museum in Puszczykowo

In my paper I would like to focus on a genre of museums which is rarely discussed, especially in a political context: historical house museums. These museums, usually created in homes previously inhabited by historical figures, often are seen as strictly aesthetic, without an ideological agenda, and thus are rarely analyzed through the lens of critical theory. I would like to focus on two Polish historical house museums which can be analyzed in the colonial context. The first one the Henryk Sienkiewicz museum in Oblęgorek. Henryk Sienkiewicz was a Polish journalist and novelist awarded with the Nobel Prize. He is known, among others, for his travels, which he described in his published travel essays and which inspired his book In Desert and Wilderness. This novel is criticized by many anthropologists for representing a strictly colonial point of view and for picturing Africans as inferior to Europeans. The second museum is the Arkady Fiedler Museum in Puszczykowo. Fiedler was also a traveler and writer. He not only wrote about his travels, but also was connected to the political groups striving for the creation of Polish colonies. In my paper I would like to discuss how this legacy of colonial fantasies, present in the works of both Sienkiewicz and Fiedler, is represented in historical house museums devoted to these writers.

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