European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

ICME Annual Conference 2012: Commodifying Culture? Cultural Villages and Living Museums

12-14 September 2012

Windhoek, Namibia | Safari Court Hotel and Conference Centre

DEADLINE: 15 May 2012
Museums are increasingly conscious that many artifacts should not simply be displayed as art. Objects need to be contextualised within the framework of the intangible cultural heritage that provides them with meaning. Ethnographic exhibitions and museums strive to present a context that adds depth to the `reading´ of an object and to reflect the dynamic nature of culture. In Namibia and other countries there has been much debate about the best way to `preserve´ and `display´ culture since it is such a fundamental aspect of a community`s identity. How should museums reflect cultural diversity in a way that preserves tradition, but also recognizes the dynamism of living cultures?
On the one hand, museums have sought to develop new exhibitions that have moved beyond the static presentation of objects in glass cabinets using audio-visuals to show the vibrancy of cultural heritage. These new forms of representation also showcase `living tradition´ and aspects of continuity and change within traditional rituals, dance, music and oration.
However, another approach presents an alternative format for the preservation and preservation of intangible cultural heritage (in particular). One of the major developments which has transformed the traveller´s experience of communities they encounter have been initiatives to create spaces where communities `speak for themselves´ and provide musical performances and craft demonstrations to visitors. The initiatives have often labelled themselves as `Cultural Villages´ or `Living Museums´. The formula has many variations; critics complain that people at these centres are turned into exhibits, while advocates argue the opposite , that such centres empower communities and provide them with the opportunity to present and preserve their own intangible cultural heritage. The issue also raises questions about the relationship between Museums of Ethnology and the communities that they represent.
Submitting abstracts
ICME invites you to submit an abstract for a full paper (20 minutes) addressing the theme of the conference. Abstracts of between 250 and 300 words will be submitted for selection to the ICME Review Committee, chaired by Annette B. Fromm ICME President. Abstracts submitted as attachments should also be included in the text of the abstract in the text of the e-mail itself.
Submissions should be sent to by May 15, 2012. Speakers will be notified by July 1.
The following information should be included with the abstract:
  • Title of submitted paper
  • Name(s) of Author(s)
  • Affiliation(s) & full address(es)
  • Abstract in English (between 250 and 300 words)
  • Support equipment required

ICME/2012/Namibia will be co-hosted by the ICOM National Committee for Namibia and the Museums Association of Namibia. The National Museum of Namibia, National Heritage Council of Namibia and UNESCO have all been invited to be co-hosts of the Conference.
General conference information
Registration forms, registration fee information, hotels, and other details will be forthcoming on the ICME web site -