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

Workshop: Certain Museums of Uncertain Pasts

10-13 July, 2012

Nanterre, France | Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de sociologie comparative (LESC), Nanterre University


Museums always seem to provide their visitors with definite and confident narratives about the past, thus making strong claims towards ordering the present and the future. However, the past life of objects, collections and of museums themselves is full of uncertainties, contradictions and unrest. Although much debated by scholars, these issues rarely make their way into exhibitions and displays.

On the other hand, war, revolution or social unrest impact directly on the life of museums. Their buildings are destroyed, looted or occupied temporarily, their collections affected. Such events usually provide opportunities for new representations of the past. Examples range from classical ethnographic exhibitions to the memorial museums of anti-communism in Eastern Europe, or the newly opened impressive spectacle buildings of museums in the field of art.

This panel invites papers that engage with the way such institutions reflect or come to terms with the traumatic events and contested moments in their past and that of the societies they claim to represent. How do they effectively deal with the inherent uncertainty and continuous social unrest? Can uncertainty be socially accepted and exhibited? Papers are welcome across the whole range of museums from anthropological or historical institutions to military or scientific ones. We also encourage discussions on other forms of visual representations (e.g. performances, photography exhibitions, installations, and events). Presenters could also focus on the life of particular objects or collections that leave or enter museums in times of historical rupture or engage with the social practices affecting their collections.


How to apply
Proposals should consist of a paper title, a (very) short abstract of <300 characters, and an abstract of 250 words. Proposals can only be submitted ONLINE.

To propose a paper, you do not need to be a member of EASA. However, if your paper is accepted, you will need to become a member. Please do not apply for membership until your paper has been accepted. You can apply afterwards, via the ONLINE APPLICATION FORM.  



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