The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity conference

‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’

Conference homepage:

We are pleased to announce the details of the conference ‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’ at the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna, on the 20th to 22nd November, 2012. This is part of a two-year international research project led by Dr Leon Wainwright (The Open University, UK; ) and funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area, the European Science Foundation). 

‘Disturbing Pasts’ brings together artists, photographers, curators, policy makers and academics from around the world, with the aim of networking with one another and exploring creative engagements with controversial and traumatic pasts in art practice, curating and museums.

Our theme:      Traumatic pasts have complex and often dramatic influences on the present. In many countries, legacies of war, colonialism, genocide and oppression return again and again to dominate contemporary politics, culture and society. The controversies surrounding traumatic pasts can shape policy, make or break governments, trigger mass demonstrations, and even spark violent confrontation. These pasts also inspire rich visual and creative responses, through which the past is remembered, remade and challenged, and the public space of the modern museum is the primary venue for these responses.

Confirmed speakers include artists, curators, policy-makers and academics:Peju Layiwola, Dierk Schmidt, T. Shanaathanan, Christopher Cozier, Rita Duffy, Paul Lowe, Rafał Betlejewski, Joanna Rajkowska, Heather Shearer, John Timberlake, Shan McAnena, Sofia Dyak, Wayne Modest, Liv Ramskjær, Maria Six-Hohenbalken, Margit Berner, Clara Himmelheber, Maruska Svasek, Fiona Magowan, Alexander Etkind, Uilleam Blacker, Andrij Portnow, Elizabeth Edwards, Sigrid Lien, Susan Legêne, Annette Hoffmann, Erica Lehrer, Simon Faulkner, Carol Tulloch

‘Disturbing Pasts’ marks a collaboration between three HERA-sponsored research consortia drawn from universities throughout Europe, in partnership with the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna. They are: 
‘Creativity and Innovation in a World of Movement’ (CIM)
‘Photographs, Colonial Legacy and Museums in Contemporary European Culture’ (PhotoCLEC)
‘Memory at War’ (MAW)

The project will publish its scholarly and creative work in a special issue of the Open Arts Journal (, and the conference will generate audio-visual material to be made available through the Open Arts Archive ( 

Entrance to the conference is free, but places are limited, and so we ask that you please reserve in advance by writing to Julia Binter,

Committee members for the project include: Dr Leon Wainwright (The Open University, UK), Dr Barbara Plankensteiner (Museum of Ethnology, Vienna), Dr Maruska Svasek (Queen’s University, Belfast), Professor Elizabeth Edwards (De Montfort University, Leicester), Dr Alexander Etkind and Dr Uilleam Blacker (University of Cambridge).                            

The project ‘Disturbing Pasts: Memories, Controversies and Creativity’ is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme which is co-funded by AHRC, AKA, DASTI, ETF, FNR, FWF, HAZU, IRCHSS, MHEST, NWO, RANNIS, RCN, VR and The European Community FP7 2007-2013, under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities programme. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Museum Ideas 2012 Conference | London | 3 October

Interest to anyone?


There are a limited number of reduced rate delegate places for post grad students to attend Museum Ideas 2012.

You can find our more about the event here:

Standard delegate rate is £197. Special reduced rate places are £77.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Best in Heritage .. the world's only annual survey of award-winning museum, heritage and conservation projects

Just one more reminder!

27-29 September 2012, Dubrovnik, Croatia


The Best in Heritage was conceived as a worldwide, annual survey of award-winning museum, heritage and conservation projects. It seemed a justifiable exercise to unite and capitalize on the expertise and energy of important Juries in evaluating hundreds of candidates. The event brings these laureates together and offers an extraordinary programme in which they will present their success stories and elaborate further on their creative approaches.

The conference gives you a unique chance to see, hear, and meet representatives of these examples of professional excellence and gain insights into innovative contemporary practice. Over two and a half days, 24 projects from 20 countries will be featured, in the programme, organised in partnership with Europa Nostra. The conference is under special patronage of ICOM and is supported by Ministry of culture of Republic of Croatia, The City of Dubrovnik, UNESCO Venice Office, ICCROM, IFLA, WFFM and many others.

The World Heritage City of Dubrovnik in the last week of September is still a lively but not overcrowded place, the weather is sunny and comfortably warm. As every year, the atmosphere will be dynamic and there will be many opportunities to develop contacts and forge future partnerships and collaborations. Be sure to visit the official web-site for more details and save your place for the up-coming event, 27-29 September 2012:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Post PhD: Too Much But Not Enough

I've been getting so many emails lately about "what's it like after you finish your PhD?" that I thought I'd write a little bit about it. It might become a bit of a series if I don't run out of steam, you never know.

To recap: after 3 years and 6 months (3 years FTE, my first year was PT), I submitted my thesis; three months after that, I had my viva, and a month after that (just over one month ago) I submitted the final revised copy. I have had final confirmation from the university that I have been granted the degree of PhD in museum studies, and have sent off the final forms to my (Canadian) funding body to inform them of my success.

So what's it like? Well, it's strange, and a mass of contradictions. On one hand, there's the relief that I don't have to be working on my thesis all day, every day. No guilt there - I'm done! But on the other hand, there isn't as much motivating me to take on new projects. I have a fantastic idea for a paper that I want to write, and all the materials, but I don't have the energy to sit down and make it happen. Not until the deadline is closer, anyway! The way I am perceived has changed, too: the pride and accomplishment I feel at having completed my PhD is shared by many of the people in my life - my family, friends, those who have also done it - but I recently interviewed for a job where, while I thought my having an advanced degree would be a bonus, I was met with nothing but resentment. One of the people on the committee had never finished his, and the other, in whose field a Master's is a terminal degree, refused to call me Dr in any correspondence. Perhaps they felt I was overqualified, and so I didn't get the job - so much for doing this for improved career prospects! Not to worry, I do have a critical mass of university teaching lined up for this year that will pay some of my bills (I will still be underemployed), and that makes me think that my education has been worthwhile; however, my academic colleagues are asking me about my post-doc plans! I wouldn't mind doing a post-doc, but it would have to be the right project, at the right place, and at the moment, I can't see too many prospects for that. But it's early days - one is eligible for post-docs up to 6 years after completing the PhD, so I have time.

I must say that my personal life has really improved. Of course I miss all my PhD peeps in the department - but there will come a time when they complete their degrees and move away, too, so getting too nostalgic is pointless. I am sure that we will collaborate and reunite in the future, anyway. Meanwhile, I am back at home, with my family, and my significant other, and my cat, and my friends and colleagues, and it feels wonderful.

But - and I am apprehensive about sharing this, because it shows what a crazy person I am - I do miss the hothouse atmosphere of the PhD, and find myself thinking of projects I'd love to do, if I had it to do over again. I think my family would have my head if I told them I was considering another degree, so let's keep that one between ourselves, shall we?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cultural Studies Association of Australasia annual conference 2012

Hosted by the Department of Gender & Cultural Studies, University of
Dec 4th-6th (pre-fix pre-conference Dec 3rd)*

Organising committee: Fiona Allon, Prudence Black, Catherine Driscoll,
Elspeth Probyn, Kane Race & Guy Redden.

Second Call for Papers

Cultural studies has a long history of investigating material practices –
indeed it was a founding tenet of British cultural studies – but recently a
new turn or return to materialism seems to be emerging in the field. What
this materiality now means is still open, but we suggest that it flags a
renewed interest in questions of how to study cultural objects,
institutions and practices (methods), what constitutes matter and
materiality (empiricism), and how things (humans and non-humans) are being
reworked at a time of global economic, environmental and cultural flux. Our
keynotes have all directed critical attention to these questions – to the
more-than-human, to new philosophies of matter, to the gendered material
and economic circuits of media, and to ‘the heavy materiality of language’.

We have invited them to help us in reinvigorating what cultural studies can
do today.

Keynote speakers: Jennifer Biddle (UNSW), Ross Chambers (Michigan), Brenda
Croft (UniSA), Katherine Gibson (UWS), Ros Gill (University of London), Gay
Hawkins (UQ), Lesley Head (Wollongong), Bev Skeggs (Goldsmiths, London).
Other plenary speakers will include: Ien Ang (UWS), Tony Bennett (UWS),
Stuart Cunningham (QUT), John Frow (Melbourne), John Hartley (Curtin),
Graeme Turner (UQ).

We encourage proposed panels and individual papers that engage with the
wide spectrum of issues flagged by our title, including submissions that
focus on:

Papers and panels not focusing on the theme are also welcome.

Please send submissions to by August 24th and include
your name and affiliation. Abstracts for papers should be 250-300 words.
Panel submissions must include three individual abstracts, a panel title
and 100-150 word rationale for the panel as a whole.

We will advise all proposers of accepted papers within 4 weeks of this
deadline. Please note that accepted presenters will need to register before
their paper will be scheduled in the program.

Early bird registration for the conference up to 1 October 2012 will
shortly be opening. Please register here

Conference website:
CSAA website:
Twitter: csaa2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Playmakers Exhibition Celebrating Birmingham MAC’s 50th Anniversary.

From Renaissance pantomimes and festivals, to the ‘happenings’ of the 50s and 60s, guerrilla street art/theatre of the 70s and 80s, 'impromptus', pop-up galleries and raves of the 90s, to the Secret Cinema of last month, there have been many names for ‘performance art’ or as they are more popularly called currently ‘interventions’. On 10 July, Dr. Viv Golding and I attended an artist talk, ‘Game On’, hosted by The Japan Foundation in London. The seminar/talk featured the work of interventionist artists Takashi Tsuchiya and Chishino Kurumada, and their most recent collaboration exhibit project with Birmingham’s MAC (Midlands Arts Centre).

Takashi Tsuchiya and Chishino Kurumada are a husband wife artist team that create ‘interactive opportunities’ based upon ‘mochitisu motaretsu’ or the ‘give and take’ fostering of community spirit. They consciously manipulate, rearrange and re-envision the practical structure and social use of spatial environments to encourage the development of human interactions and wellbeing. It was a fascinating seminar that reaffirmed the importance of visceral experience and I think inspired everyone in attendance to go to visit the exhibit in person; which is precisely what a few of us from Leicester Museum Studies subsequently did.

The MAC itself has a cozy-yet-exotically-labyrinthine quality about it; not unlike what I imagine the isles of the lotus-eaters would be like. The MAC’s ‘Bridges Café’ serves pleasant food while vestiges of previous MAC projects whisper from every corner, telling stories of an active, delightful past. Time ceases to have any importance; the Centre is enchanting. Fortunately for Amy, Trina and I, research museologists are, upon induction into graduate studies, inoculated against such charms. We were women-on-a-mission, not to be trifled with, nor be swayed by the wiles of red velvet cake and tea.

(We were perhaps momentarily ‘delayed’—but not ‘swayed’. Weakened by the brisk forty-minute walk between the rail station and MAC, we reasoned that in order to do justice to our work, we needed a bit of fortification before continuing almost immediately ‘onward and upward’ to review ‘The Playmakers’ exhibition, where through happenstance, we were fortunate enough to visit with Craig Ashley, the Visual Arts Producer for MAC.)

During a brief conversation, Craig Ashley intimated that the choice of the artists, and the outcome of ‘The Playmakers’, could not have better fulfilled expectation. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the MAC, the display honours the history of the MAC by paying thematic homage to the founders and to the children’s theatre, fine art and puppetry that composed the early purpose of the MAC.

The exhibit in its production process also brought the community together. Pointing to the shapes strung from the gently turning overhead mobiles, Craig reminded us that these works were based upon drawings by local children—young participants that may, just as their parents brought them to the MAC to take part in this project, perhaps eventually bring their own children and grandchildren to the MAC fifty years from now.

Standing in the midst of Playmakers, the visitor is completely surrounded by the imagination of the artists (and the community children) that produced the exhibit. It is difficult not to be amazed. Giant puppet effigies of the MAC’s founders are brought into gesticulation through the physical interactions of visitors. Lights cross the shapes of the mobile characters, casting the shadows against the walls in all directions. Large counterweighted pulleys cause dancing movements in various elements of the displays on opposing sides of a large bridge slide that divides the exhibition space. The entire exhibit was a joyful invitation to play!

Walking away from the exhibition itself however, the intellect begins to consider the inherent analogies of interpersonal relationships insistent within the dynamics of the exhibition space—of how we all have an impact upon the world around us. We may not always realize the impact of our actions; we don’t always know who or what we are changing through what we do—or don’t do; through the strings we do or don’t pull. Often, we have to learn through trial and error.

‘The Playmakers’ potentially reminds the visitor that each of us are intimately connected with others, based upon the interactive choices we make. Additionally, with its references to the origins of the MAC itself, the exhibit also reminds the visitor that the world we know now, was created by people and events that have gone before us—just as we are creating a world for those not yet born. This truly extraordinary exhibit continues through to the ninth of September.

For more information please visit MAC’s The Playmakers exhibit site:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Fever

I think we've all been a bit sidetracked as of late! All of the posting boards, RSS feeds and usual blogs have gone very quiet around here. Olympic fever has taken over! Perhaps now that it is over, things shall return to normal and I will be inundated with news.

Until then, apologies for the state of quiet that this blog has become in recent weeks. Summer is always slow, but soon we will be gearing up for the next academic year again!

Monday, August 06, 2012

8th Global Conference - Pluralism, Inclusion and Citizenship

May be of interest to some:

Saturday 16th March - Monday 18th March 2013
Lisbon, Portugal

Call for Presentation:
With this multi-disciplinary project we seek to explore the new developments and changes of the idea of pluralism and their implications for social and political processes of inclusion, exclusion and citizenship in contemporary societies. The project will also assess the larger context of major world transformations, such as new forms of migration and the massive movements of people across the globe, as well as the impact of the multiple dynamics of globalisation on rootedness and membership (including their tensions and conflicts) and on a general sense of social acceptance and recognition. Looking to encourage innovative trans-disciplinary dialogues, we warmly welcome papers from all disciplines, professions and vocations which struggle to understand what it means for people, the world over, to be citizens in rapidly changing national, social and political landscapes.

In the context of Pluralism, Inclusion and Citizenship, the project recognizes that it is an arduous pursuit to provide a fully adequate definition of justice; the project focuses on the fact that we can clearly acknowledge instances of injustice. Injustice arises in manifold forms and with varying degrees of intensity. From global forms of injustice such as world hunger, poverty or war crimes to more local ones such as ethnic or religious discrimination or insufficient health insurance, a considerable number of people are victims of continuous exploitation and suffering. This awareness of injustice has increased even more with the rise of globalization. Injustice is not confined to a certain part of the world, but it transgresses frontiers. This leads to us all witnessing and experiencing injustice directly or indirectly, and encourages us to act responsibly in minimising, alleviating or ending it. This multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary project also seeks to define the framework of injustice by addressing its various underlying causes and its impact on all aspects that concern not only our inter-human relations but also our interaction with other non-human beings.

In particular presentations, papers, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes:
1. The Idea of Injustice
- When does the idea of injustice arise? What triggers it and what is its aim?
- What is the relation between justice and injustice? Does injustice prevail when justice is absent or is there a non-linear connection between justice and injustice?
- How do we perceive an instance of injustice? Is there a universal understanding of injustice or is it rather culturally defined?
- Does the concept of injustice have moral implications? Does the pursuit of injustice necessarily mean, for example, a lack of a sense of responsibility?
- Is the pursuit of injustice solely confined to inter-human relations or does it also concern non-human beings such as animals?

2. Political Injustice
- What does violation of individual freedoms and liberties involve?
- Addressing injustice connected to social - political turmoil
- The role of government in the process and decisions concerning unfair procedures within society
- Religious, gender, ethnic and racial discrimination
- What are the means for addressing social and political injustice within society? What is the role of art and media in this regard?

3. Economic Injustice
- Is economic injustice related to a disproportionate distribution of wealth, services and goods, or is it explained rather through the balance between benefits and burdens?
- Poverty and the lack of primary goods necessary to lead a life of dignity and respect
- Disparities of wealth and income inequality - advantages and disadvantages
- Can a political system such as capitalism or socialism cause economic injustice?
- The role of free market or lack thereof in addressing economic inequalities

4. Global Injustice
- What are various forms of global injustice, that is, instances of injustice that affect all of us?
- How can we address exploitation, violence, alienation, discrimination, inequality and marginalisation at a global level?; Encouraging awareness by building fluid boundaries of belonging and active participation
- The role of international organisations and international human rights laws in ending or alleviating famine, poverty, discrimination, inequality, etc.
- Should we make recourse to moral aspects for a greater awareness of global injustice?
Presentations will also be considered which deal with related themes.

What to Send
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday  12th October 2012. All submissions are minimally double blind peer reviewed where appropriate. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 18th January 2013. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract
E-mails should be titled: Pluralism 8 Abstract Submission

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Joint Organising Chairs:
Ram Vemuri and Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the 'Diversity and Recognition' research projects, which in turn belong to the 'At the Interface' programmes of Inter-Disciplinary.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore discussions which are innovative and challenging.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Friday, August 03, 2012

5th Global Conference 'Digital Memories'

Wednesday 13th March - Friday 15th March 2013
Lisbon, Portugal

Call For Presentations:

This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference aims to examine, explore and critically engage with the issues and implications created by the massive exploitation of digital technologies for inter-human communication and examine how online users form, archive and de-/code their memories in cybermedia environments, and how the systems used for production influence the way the users perceive and work with the memory. In particular the conference will encourage equally theoretical and practical debates which surround the cultural contexts of memory co-/production, re-/mediation, en-/decoding, dissemination, personal/mass interpretation and preservation.

Presentations, papers, workshops and reports are invited on any of the following themes:
1. Digital Personal and Community Memory
Theories and Concepts of Memory. The Digitisation of Individual and Community Memory. Identifying Key Features and Issues. Inventing and Re-inventing Historical Knowledge. The Future of Memory?
2. Externalization and Mediation of Memories
Memory Metaphors in the Digital Age. Digital Media in the Process of Creating the Social Memory. Representational Principles for Memory Recording.
3. Memory and Cultural Software
New Interfaces. Cultural Visualizations and Mapping. The Memory of Digital Media and Systems. The Recording Device and the User Response. Strategies for Performing Digital Memory. Mobile Systems.
4. Memory in Cybercultures and Arts
Fan Cultures and Social Networking. New Media Arts and Memory. The Spatialization of Memories in Interactive Media and Virtual Worlds.
5. Archiving and Dissemination of Memory Data
Digital Data Recording. Memory Restoring and Preservation Strategies. The Future of Digital Libraries and Archives. Database Design, Data Retrieval, Usage and Preservation. Political, Judicial and Social Problems with Data Ownership.
6. Uses of New Media for Production of Historical Knowledge
History of Society Memory. National Identity and Memory in the Digital Age. Political Uses of Cybermedia for Historical Revisionism. Digital Memory and Communities of Place.
7. Specific Research on Community Memory
Social Issues Research. Online Ethnographic Research. Privacy and Legal Issues in Community Informatics. Folksonomies as Anthropological Archives. Archeology of Interfaces.

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals.

What to Send

300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 12th October 2012. All submissions are minimally double blind peer reviewed where appropriate. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 18th January 2013. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract f) up to 10 key words

E-mails should be entitled: Digital Memories 5 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs
Daniel Riha:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the 'Cyber' programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.