‘Difficult Heritage’ and the Legacies of Empire. Diversifying engagement with material culture in public spaces and museums
Mirjam Brusius, German Historical Institute London/TORCH Oxford, firstname.lastname@example.org
The vestiges of empire extend beyond standard conventions of physical control and coercion. Empire persists and proliferates in the present through material and visual representations and celebrations of the past. It manifests in statues, museum exhibits, artifact collections, and is embedded in public spaces and the individual’s consciousness. This has an impact on how audiences access and perceive not just artefacts in public life, but also history.
This session intends to feature six case studies and a commentary that address the legacy of empire in public space, ranging from imperial statues such as that of Rhodes, to the possession and presentation of artifacts in museums, and beyond. Following up on debates that have taken place in the last few years, the session seeks to learn from examples of what a critical engagement with material culture could look like in practical terms, e.g. through interventions by (art) historians, curators, community members and artists. How can difficult histories be made visible in public space, e.g. if imperial statues are not removed? How can museums tell their complex collection histories in more inclusive ways? Finally, how could these interventions contribute to attempts to diversify audiences in museums and make institutions more accessible and relevant today?
Brighton provides an apt platform for this session: Here, one of the landmarks of the city, the Royal Pavilion, incorporates an ‘Oriental’ appearance. We thus welcome proposals that engage with colonial (counter-flow) discourses and the exhibition of colonial power from the late Georgian era onwards.
To offer a paper
Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenor, details above.
Provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).
Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because it will appear online, in social media and in the printed programme.
You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenor.
Deadline for submissions: Monday 5 November 2018