Note: Some of the terms in this glossary are complex and difficult to define. The definitions provided are meant to introduce each term, not exhaustively explore it.
Colonialism: the act of occupying another group’s territory and exploiting its people and/or resources.
Context: information that helps us better understand the “big picture” surrounding something, such as an object, event, or statement. In a museum, context might refer to information that helps us better understand an artifact, label, or collection. Context can come in many forms, from historical facts and figures to personal accounts and stories. The ReStorying OUR Museum project aims to better contextualise, or provide context for, objects connected with Britain’s colonial past.
“Exotic”: the quality of being considered interesting or unusual, often because of being from a distant place. When used to describe a person, this term can be objectifying, racist, and offensive. The term has colonialist undertones, as it was used by Western Europeans at the time of colonial conquest to describe non-Western, non-white, non-Christian peoples and to emphasise the difference they perceived between these peoples and themselves.
Indigenous: a term used to describe self-identifying cultural groups that are distinct from the dominant societies around them and that have pre-colonial and continuing ties to a specific place.
ReStory: the Museum of Cambridge’s term for engaging Cambridgeshire community members in reinterpreting and creating a more participatory display for objects in its collection with links to Britain’s colonial past. This process aims to work with members of the community to think creatively about how we can contextualise such objects better and re-imagine their labels.
Tobacconist: a person or business selling tobacco products and related goods.