CFP: Museums and Refugees - Keeping Cultures

From H-Museum:

Call for Papers

Museums and Refugees - Keeping Cultures
Museum in Docklands, London
13-14 March 2008

End of call date: 17 October 2007

How do museums, the heritage sector, refugees and asylum seekers engage with each other? The collective and individual voices are rarely heard and often misrepresented in the media. How can we establish two-way conversations and together respond to the increased global focus on forced migration? Museums, academic research centres, non-government organisations and government departments/agencies now see the need to explore the cultural contributions to and impact of refugee and asylum seeker groups on urban and regional centres.

The conference aims to explore how museums and other heritage agencies are
responding to complex ethical, legal, social and political issues. What do
refugee or asylum seekers want from museums? How can museums inform debate
and, given recent trends in immigration and asylum polices, highlight
international and national obligations to protect people from persecution?

These issues significantly affect museums' work: curatorial decisions,
collecting strategies, partnerships, approaches to programming, as well as
shared decision making in collaborative exhibitions and public events. Are
museums agents and forums of cultural change or do they reflect social
change? Is there a new role for museums in terms of cultural facilitation
and mediation? Should museums be more proactive places for cross-cultural
exchange and understanding between 'new' communities and peoples of diverse
backgrounds? Are there appropriate ethical codes of practice in place to
facilitate these new relationships?

We invite a range of papers that might be prompted by these questions as
well as three conference themes:

1. Giving voice to refugees: the museological agenda
- what are the current museological strategies to record, engage and reflect
diverse tangible and intangible heritage?
- what resources and expertise can museums offer to and exchange with
individuals and community groups and in turn serve as a counterpoint to the
dominant discourses?
- to what extent do current practices inform museological policies,
practices and long-term agendas for working with refugee and asylum seeker

2. Evidencing social impact of work with new communities
- how can concepts such as social capital be an effective means of to
measure museums' effectiveness, develop responsive practice and inform
policies and funding opportunities?
- can museums be effective forums for bridging, by offering active
participation, access to power and encouraging cross-cultural discussions,
debate and understanding - and, if so, how can this be realising measured in
terms of evidence that will convince policy makers?
- where does the work of museums sit with political and social policies on
measuring social impact, e.g. in terms of regeneration, social cohesion?
- can we ensure that notions of citizenship and values are not used to
promote the cultural values of a more dominant group over another?

3. Innovation and lasting partnerships
- how can museums and heritage agencies be more creative and innovative in
addressing these issues?
- how can museums develop more flexible spaces and partnerships to present
plural perspectives of groups and individuals' histories and heritage
(tangible and intangible)?
- how can museums work better with refugee and asylum seekers, new
communities, universities and other relevant agencies as a knowledge base
and communicate these issues to the public.

We would welcome abstracts of 1-2 pages on these issues and other issues
pertinent to the aims of this conference - these might include partnership
work, community cantered museum work, social inclusion, diasporas and
transnational social movements, gender and sexuality, deportation and
detention, and combating racism.

Please send abstracts and/or proposals to
and by 17 October 2007.

Responses to abstracts will be by 1 December 2007.

A selection of papers will be published in the Museums and Diversity series,
which is published by UNESCO.

Dr. Darryl McIntyre
Group Director, Public Programmes
Museum of London Group
150 London Wall
London. EC2Y 5HN
Tel: 020 7814 5663
Fax: 0870 444 3853


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