The year 2007 marked the bicentenary of the Act abolishing British participation in the slave trade. Representing Enslavement and Abolition on Museums- which uniquely draws together contributions from academic commentators, museum professionals, community activists and artists who had an involvement with the bicentenary - reflects on the complexity and difficulty of museums' experiences in presenting and interpreting the histories of slavery and abolition, and places these experiences in the broader context of debates over the bicentenary's significance and the lessons to be learnt from it. The history of Britain’s role in transatlantic slavery officially become part of the National Curriculum in the UK in 2009; with the bicentenary of 2007, this marks the start of increasing public engagement with what has largely been a ‘hidden’ history. The book aims to not only critically review and assess the impact of the bicentenary, but also to identify practical issues that public historians, consultants, museum practitioners, heritage professionals and policy makers can draw upon in developing responses, both to the increasing recognition of Britain’s history of African enslavement and controversial and traumatic histories more generally.
1. Introduction: Anxiety and Ambiguity in The Representation of Dissonant History. Geoff Cubitt, Laurajane Smith, Ross Wilson Part I: Organizing the Bicentenary: Politics and Policy 2. The Burden of Knowing Versus the Privilege of Unknowing. Emma Waterton 3. High Anxiety – 2007 and Institutional Neuroses. Roshi Naidoo 4. Restoring the Pan African Perspective: Reversing the Institutionalization of Maafa Denial. Toyin Agbetu 5. Slavery and the (Symbolic) Politics of Memory in Jamaica: Rethinking the Bicentenary. Wayne Modest Part II: Representing the Bicentenary: Communities, Consultants and Curators 6. The Role of Museums as ‘Places of Social Justice’: Community Consultation and the 1807 Bicentenary. Laurajane Smith and Kalliopi Fouseki 7. Science and Slavery, 2007 – Public Consultation. Tracy-Ann Smith 8. The Curatorial Complex: Marking the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Ross Wilson Part III: Marking the Bicentenary: Exhibitions, Art and Personal Reflections 9. Making the London Sugar and Slavery Gallery at Museum of London Docklands. David Spence 10. Terra Nova for the Royal Geographical Society: 2007 and the Bombay African Strand Of the ‘Crossing Continents: Connecting Communities’ Project. Cliff Pereira and Vandana Patel 11. Exhibiting Difference: A Curatorial Journey with George Alexander Gratton the ‘Spotted Negro Boy’. Temi-Tope Odumosu 12. Art, Resistance and Remembrance: A Bicentenary at the British Museum. Christopher Spring 13. Maybe There Was Something to Celebrate. Raimi Gbadamosi Part IV: Encountering the Bicentenary: Trauma and Engagement 14. Atrocity Materials and the Representation of Transatlantic Slavery: Problems, Strategies and Reactions. Geoff Cubitt 15. Affect and Registers of Engagement: Navigating Emotional Responses to Dissonant Heritages. Laurajane Smith 16. Commemorating Civil Rights and Reform Movements at the National Museum of American History. Kylie Message
‘This book provides a valuable contribution to our understanding of the ways in which museums can either empower or disempower their communities from dealing with the legacy of the past in the present, and thus contribute to current efforts of making communities.’ - Andrea Witcomb, Deakin University, Australia