Museums and Sites of Persuasion: Politics, Memory and Human Rights, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Museums and Sites of Persuasion

Politics, Memory and Human Rights, 1st Edition

Edited by Joyce Apsel, Amy Sodaro


220 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138567818
pub: 2019-10-28
Hardback: 9781138565357
pub: 2019-10-29
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781138567825
pub: 2019-10-14
from $19.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


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.


'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

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Contributors


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
  2. Part II – Writing National Histories

  3. Malkhaz Toria, Between Traditional and Modern Museology: Exhibiting National History in the Museum of Georgia
  4. Astrid Nonbo Andersen, Curating Enslavement and the Colonial History of Denmark: The 2017 Centennial
  5. Alissa Boguslaw, Kosovo’s NEWBORN Monument: Persuasion, Contestation, and the Narrative Constructions of Past and Future
  6. Part III – Displaying Difficult Pasts

  7. Joyce Apsel, "Inspiration Lives Here": Struggle, Martyrdom and Redemption in Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights
  8. Roy Tamashiro, The Sõn Mỹ Memorial and Museum: A Continuous Memorial Service to Remember and Bear Witness to the 1968 Mỹ Lai Massacre
  9. Joseph P. Feldman, Memory as Persuasion: Historical Discourse and Moral Messages at Peru’s Place of Memory, Tolerance, and Social Inclusion
  10. Part IV – Resistance through Memory

  11. Benjamin Nienass and Alexandra Delano Alonso, Mexico City’s Memorial to the Victims of Violence and the Facade of Participation
  12. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba and Douglas Ivrin-Erickson, Narratives of Ethnic and Political Conflict in Burundian Sites of Persuasion

Joyce Apsel and Amy Sodaro, Conclusion



About the Editors

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).

About the Series

Museum Meanings

Museums have undergone enormous changes in recent decades; an ongoing process of renewal and transformation bringing with it changes in priority, practice and role, as well as new expectations, philosophies, imperatives and tensions that continue to attract attention from those working in, and drawing upon, wide-ranging disciplines.

Museum Meanings presents new research that explores diverse aspects of the shifting social, cultural and political significance of museums and their agency beyond, as well as within, the cultural sphere. Interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and international perspectives and empirical investigation are brought to bear on the exploration of museums’ relationships with their various publics (and analysis of the ways in which museums shape – and are shaped by – such interactions).

Theoretical perspectives might be drawn from anthropology, cultural studies, art and art history, learning and communication, media studies, architecture and design and material culture studies, amongst others. Museums are understood very broadly – including art galleries, historic sites and other cultural heritage institutions – as are their relationships with diverse constituencies.

The Series Editors invite proposals that explore the political and social significance of museums and their ethical implications. If you have an idea for a book that you think would be appropriate for the series, then please contact the Series Editors to discuss further.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Museum Studies
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Library & Information Science / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology