Few perspectives have invigorated the development of critical museum studies over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries as much as Foucault’s account of the relations between knowledge and power and their role in processes of governing. Within this literature, Tony Bennett’s work stands out as having marked a series of strategic engagements with Foucault’s work to offer a critical genealogy of the public museum, offering an account of its nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century development that has been constantly alert to the politics of museums in the present.
Museums, Power, Knowledge brings together new research with a set of essays initially published in diverse contexts, making available for the first time the full range of Bennett’s critical museology. Ranging across natural history, anthropological art, geological and history museums and their precursors in earlier collecting institutions, and spanning the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries in discussing museum practices in Britain, Australia, the USA, France and Japan, it offers a compelling account of the shifting political logics of museums over the modern period.
As a collection that aims to bring together the ‘signature’ work of a museum theorist and historian whose work has long occupied a distinctive place in museum/society debates, Museums, Power, Knowledge will be of interest to researchers, teachers and students working in the fields of museum and heritage studies, cultural history, cultural studies and sociology, as well as museum professionals and museum visitors.
Table of Contents
Preface; Acknowledgements; List of Figures; Note on the text; Introduction: Museums, Power, Knowledge; PART 1. CIVIC ENGINES; Chapter1. The Exhibitionary Complex; Chapter 2. The Multiplication of Culture’s Utility; Chapter 3. Museums, Nations, Empires, Religions; PART 2. MACHINERIES OF MODERNITY; Chapter 4. Museums and Progress: Narrative, Ideology, Performance; Chapter 5. Pasts Beyond Memories: The Evolutionary Museum, Liberal Government and the Politics of Prehistory; Chapter 6. Pedagogic Objects, Clean Eyes and Popular Instruction: On Sensory Regimes and Museum Didactics; Chapter 7. Exhibition, Difference and the Logic of Culture; PART 3. ASSEMBLING AND GOVERNING CULTURES; Chapter 8. The ‘Shuffle of Things’ and the Distribution of Agency; Chapter 9. Collecting, Instructing, Governing: Fields, Publics, Milieus; Chapter 10. Aesthetics, Culture and the Ordering of Race: Boas and the Boasians; Chapter 11. Re-collecting Ourselves: Indigenous Time, Culture, Community and the Museum; Notes; References; Index
Tony Bennett is Research Professor in Social and Cultural Theory in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, Australia. His research spans across museum studies, cultural studies and sociology. His contributions to museum studies include The Birth of the Museum (1995), Pasts Beyond Memory: Evolution, Museums, Colonialism and, as co-author, Collecting, Ordering, Governing: Anthropology, Museums and Liberal Government (2017).