Museums, Human Rights and Democracy
23 November, 2012
2:00pm - 5:00pm
"Human Rights" within the museum context often draws upon the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ‘Human rights’ has, in the post Cold War, post feminist, postsocialist era, become perhaps the only remaining universal ideology that retains a relatively normative status. It therefore offers a frame for a range of institutions, including museums.
Drawing on a long history of museum practice, Universal Museums argue that they are best placed to represent a ‘new’ universal humanity and all its complexity. Since the second half of the 20th century we see the emergence of museums that focus on human rights, including those of Indigenous people, the memorialisation of atrocities, freedom from slavery, torture and oppression and the performance of civil rights. Rather than representing the world as ‘one’, ‘human rights museums’ acknowledge that the performance of these rights is culturally specific.
This interdisciplinary symposium explores how human rights have become central to international developments in museums. The symposium will consider the intellectual foundation of the museum and the subject of human rights. Drawing on recent developments in museology, we ask, what are the purposes of museums? Does the inclusion of human rights and democracy necessitate a rewriting of our museology?
Location: CCANESA Board Room, Madsen Building, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney
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