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    Introduction: memory, community and the new museum

    Andermann, Jens and Arnold-de-Simine, Silke (2012) Introduction: memory, community and the new museum. Theory, Culture & Society 29 (1), pp. 3-13. ISSN 0263-2764.

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    Abstract

    Over the last decades, in response to feminist, postmodern and postcolonial critiques of the modern museum, objects, collections and processes of museaIization have been radically re-signified and re-posited in the cultural arena. The new museums emerging from this shift have redefined their functions in and for communities not simply by changing their narratives but by renegotiating the processes of narration and the museal codes of communication with the public. They define themselves now not as disciplinary spaces of academic history but as places of memory, exemplifying the postmodern shift from authoritative master discourses to the horizontal, practice-related notions of memory, place, and community. The key feature of these new museums is that they deploy strategies of applied theatrics to invite emotional responses from visitors: to make them empathize and identify with individual sufferers and victims, or with their own contemporaries inhabiting alternative modernities in distant places. This dossier seeks to probe these new museographic and curatorial discourses, focusing in particular on the memory museum as an emergent global form of (counter)monumentality. Drawing on different geographical and historical contexts, it argues that the new museums’ apparently global aesthetics implies a danger of surrendering the very specificity of historical experiences the memorial ‘site’ offers its visitors.

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