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
List of Figures
List of Contributors
Part I – Museums, Politics and Persuasion
Joyce Apsel and Amy Sodaro, Introduction: Memory, Politics and Human Rights
Part II – Writing National Histories
Part III – Displaying Difficult Pasts
Part IV – Resistance through Memory
Joyce Apsel and Amy Sodaro, Conclusion
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.