Accepted Paper:

Knowledge production and the National Museum  

Author:

Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation proposes to focus on the making of scholarly knowledge in the context of cultural heritage research and its social dissemination or contestation in the museum space. I will study the institutionalized context and the politicized framework of ethnographic studies in Soviet Estonia.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation proposes to focus on the making of scholarly knowledge in the context of cultural heritage research and its social dissemination or contestation in the museum space. I will study the institutionalized and the politicized framework of ethnographic studies in Soviet Estonia. The museal 'knowledge production' practices represent ambivalently the expertise and institutions engaged in the research and collecting of cultural heritage, and their interaction with the general public in that process from a historical perspective under particular socio-political circumstance. The institutionalized context thus defined and the time constraint guides my perspective on the ideological shifts affecting ethnographic studies. The empirical material for the analysis of the formation of ethnographic sources and ethnographic collecting practices are based on the institutionalized knowledge deposited at the Estonian National Museum.

The process of institutionalization denotes in essence a relocation from the margins to the centre - the establishment of canons, the conceptualization of paradigmatic truths and the fixation of sociocultural practices or products in a meaningful, manageable and celebrated format. The formation of a cultural/academic institution - both from the perspective of matter and practices - involves categorizations, exclusions and inclusions in identifying the knowledge to be sought and the representations created. The making of a museum, the establishment of depositories for past repertoires, and for records of past cultural practices and artefacts has inherently served the purpose of creating a national cultural heritage, which requires continuous critical retrospection.

Panel P312
Making heritage, making knowledge