An update on the Whose Heritage? project

The Whose Heritage? project was set up in 2019 to explore the cultural legacy of colonialism at West Dean College. Working with academic staff, students, external subject specialists and source communities, the project aims to re-evaluate and inform how objects in our collection are cared for, curated, and displayed.  

Progress to date 

Initial research has focussed on a collection of nearly 100 African objects, mostly originating from Sudan. These were collected by William, Frank and Arthur James who travelled to Sudan in the 1880s. They also left an extensive archive of travel journals and photographic albums.  

In 2020 West Dean College commissioned JC Niala (African Collections Researcher, Horniman Museum) to compile a report on this collection. JC highlighted its significance as a Sudanese collection in the UK and has identified key Sudanese and Somali organisations in the UK that can support a dialogue with source communities in Africa.  

Next steps 

We are now looking to appoint a researcher to continue research into the provenance of these objects and facilitate a dialogue with the source communities they relate to. If you are from any of these communities, we would be pleased to hear from you. For more information, please contact the Collections Team via email [email protected].