Museums and Sites of Persuasion
Politics, Memory and Human Rights
Museums and Sites of Persuasion examines the concept of museums and memory sites as locations that attempt to promote human rights, democracy and peace. Demonstrating that such sites have the potential to act as powerful spaces of persuasion or contestation, the book also shows that there are perils in the selective memory and history that they present.
Examining a range of museums, memorials and exhibits in places as varied as Burundi, Denmark, Georgia, Kosovo, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and the US, this volume demonstrates how they represent and try to come to terms with difficult histories. As sites of persuasion, the contributors to this book argue, their public goal is to use memory and education about the past to provide moral lessons to visitors that will encourage a more democratic and peaceful future. However, the case studies also demonstrate how political, economic and social realities often undermine this lofty goal, raising questions about how these sites of persuasion actually function on a daily basis.
Straddling several interdisciplinary fields of research and study, Museums and Sites of Persuasion will be essential reading for those working in the fields of museum studies, memory studies, and genocide studies. It will also be essential reading for museum practitioners and anyone engaged in the study of history, sociology, political science, anthropology and art history.
Table of Contents
List of Figures; List of Contributors; Acknowledgements; Part I – Museums, Politics and Persuasion; Joyce Apsel and Amy Sodaro, Introduction: Memory, Politics and Human Rights; 1. Amy Sodaro, Selective Memory: Memorial Museums, Human Rights, and the Politics of Victimhood; Part II – Writing National Histories; 2. Malkhaz Toria, Between Traditional and Modern Museology: Exhibiting National History in the Museum of Georgia; 3. Astrid Nonbo Andersen, Curating Enslavement and the Colonial History of Denmark: The 2017 Centennial; 4. Alissa Boguslaw, Kosovo’s NEWBORN Monument: Persuasion, Contestation, and the Narrative Constructions of Past and Future; Part III – Displaying Difficult Pasts; 5. Joyce Apsel, "Inspiration Lives Here": Struggle, Martyrdom and Redemption in Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights; 6. Roy Tamashiro, The Sõn Mỹ Memorial and Museum: A Continuous Memorial Service to Remember and Bear Witness to the 1968 Mỹ Lai Massacre; 7. Joseph P. Feldman, Memory as Persuasion: Historical Discourse and Moral Messages at Peru’s Place of Memory, Tolerance, and Social Inclusion; Part IV – Resistance through Memory; 8. Benjamin Nienass and Alexandra Délano Alonso, Mexico City’s Memorial to the Victims of Violence and the Façade of Participation; 9. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba and Douglas Ivrin-Erickson, Narratives of Ethnic and Political Conflict in Burundian Sites of Persuasion; Joyce Apsel and Amy Sodaro, Conclusion; Works Cited; Index
Joyce Apsel is Clinical Professor in Liberal Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences at New York University and President of the Institute for the Study of Genocide. She is author of Introducing Peace Museums (2016) and co-edited publications include: Genocide Matters: Ongoing Issues and New Perspectives (2014) and Museums for Peace: Transforming Cultures (2012). Her research interests include comparative genocide, human rights, pedagogy, and peace and museum studies.
Amy Sodaro is Associate Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College/City University of New York. Her research focuses on memorialization of atrocity, particularly in memorial museums. She is co-editor of Memory and the Future: Transnational Politics, Ethics and Culture (2010) and is author of Exhibiting Atrocity: Memorial Museums and the Politics of Past Violence (2018).
'The booming globalisation of historical memory since the l980s has been "musealised." Apsel and Sodaro’s exemplary book draws cases from societies in five continents. These sites of memory and atrocity emphasise universal human rights, and peace.’ – Nigel Young, UK
‘Through a critical interrogation of memorial museums and monuments, this book provides new and much deeper understanding of the authority of the heritage space. It brings us on a journey that examines how successive generations remember, negotiate, interpret and display difficult pasts in an attempt to shape contemporary attitudes and behaviour.’ – Elizabeth Crooke, Ulster University, Ireland