Accepted paper:

Museum mediated memories and the urban working class

Author:

Elizabeth Carnegie (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the representations of working class communities within urban museums and considers way in which their memories may be appropriated or actively sought to serve the wider aims of local government-funded institutions.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I explore the potential for museums to act as spaces in which to interpret the lives of ordinary men and women and the legacies and biases of such representations. Through consideration of collecting and display processes, I question whether it is possible to create 'warts and all' views of working class experiences whilst remaining sensitive to participant's needs and fears of exposure. I argue that working class memories may be appropriated or actively sought to serve the wider aims of local government-funded museums and that community consultation to inform displays is subject to self-censorship, community collusion in 'stigma management' and the curatorial decision making process of local government officers. Thereafter, I consider the impacts of such histories on participants and question whether their histories and indeed museum spaces are appropriated for middle-class leisure.

panel P28
Social transformation in the United Kingdom: appropriation, class and identity