Troubled conversations: dialogues about ethnographic collections with the Ka’apor indigenous people

<p></p><p>Abstract This article discusses the collaborative research and exhibition project Sharing Collections and Connecting Histories, carried out by the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden (NME), the Netherlands, the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Brazil and the Ka’apor indigenous people of the indigenous reserve Alto Turiaçu, Maranhão, Brazil. The collaborative approach that characterized this project reflects a transformation that has been taking place at the NME in Leiden towards a more inclusive and collaborative museological work, and at the Museu Goeldi, which has been promoting collaborative work with indigenous peoples for at least two decades. The project seeks to meet the political needs of the Ka’apor to draw national and international attention to the importance of defending their territorial rights, which are continuously threatened by the illegal exploitation of lumber on their land. This article focuses on the dialogical processes of studying the Ka’apor collections and developing an exhibition. It considers different disciplinary foci — anthropology and museology — in dialogue with indigenous thought, as well as the process of negotiating the interests and the encounters between different cognitive perspectives and political positions. In addition to documenting and reflecting on the co-creative production of an ethnographic exhibition, this article reconsiders the cognitive, political and ethical dimensions of this type of work involving indigenous peoples.</p><p></p>