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Mat05


Museums as spaces for anti-racism
Convenors:
Anna Rastas (Tampere University)
Carol Ann Dixon (University of Sheffield)
Stream:
Material Culture and Museums
Format:
Panel

Short abstract:

This panel explores museums as spaces for anti-racism with examples of empirical studies on museums and museum work covering a wide range of activities from research and curating to planning and organizing cultural programs and collaboration with minoritized communities.

Long abstract:

Over centuries of assemblage, interpretation and storytelling through the display of cultural objects in museums there has been a tendency to distort and erase the long-standing presence of diverse communities of colour and other racialized minorities throughout continental Europe, thus promoting and homogenising whiteness as a norm. The resulting exclusion and marginalisation of histories that evidence and speak to the lived experiences of ethnically diverse indigenous and settled peoples across Europe has heavily influenced the way knowledge has conventionally been presented within exhibition spaces through artefact collections, artworks, interpretation literature and programmes of pedagogical activities. Furthermore, the significant under-representation of racialized minorities within the staffing and governance structures of museums has also led to the emergence of exclusionary discourses and practices that present the histories of European nations through racialized optics. This falsely 'monoculturalist gaze' perpetually situates people at the periphery of socio-cultural and political life.

A growing body of academics, artists, curators and other creative professionals working with/in (with and in) museums, galleries and the wider arts and heritage sectors have become increasingly engaged in scholarly discourses and practice-based work that is seeking to transform the sector's problematic legacies of exclusion and marginalisation through anti-racist and decolonial activism.

Papers in this session will, therefore, discuss a range of the collaborative interventions that have been pursued and are currently in development to bring about progressive change in the sector and foster cultures of visibility, plurality and validation for Europe's multicultural past, present and future.