Jewish Heritage Europe

Call for Papers: Museums and Their Publics at Sites of Conflicted History

Visitor to POLIN museum
Visitor to POLIN museum


We are pleased for share this Call for Papers for a conference to take place in March 2017

Call for Papers: Museums and Their Publics at Sites of Conflicted History

International conference, 13-15 March 2017
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw, Poland


Museums of history face a particular challenge in societies that have experienced conflict and violence in recent memory, radical geopolitical and ideological change, and socio-economic and technological challenges. Multiple and rival historical perspectives characterize the dynamics of public memory in these societies. Differing narratives of the past are told either in parallel, or appear in open conflict with each other, while memories still hidden and silent await their midwives for their public articulation at the right juncture.

Divided memories are characteristic of post-communist Europe and in other regions that have experienced totalitarian regimes, wars, mass violence (ethnic cleansing, population transfers), radical border changes, and other disruptions. The present day brings additional tensions: liberal democratic societies in the West are called on to respond to global crises, the massive population shifts that ensue, and creation of new national and ethnic minorities within multinational and ethnonational states. In some societies, attempts at expanding democracy and human rights, through such mechanisms as truth and reconciliation commissions, bring new waves of difficult knowledge into public circulation, challenging long-held national narratives enshrined both on the walls of major museums and in the minds of many visitors.

The purpose of this conference is to explore these issues in relation to the changing character and role of museums today.

Museums have a responsibility to those whose story they tell, as well as to their publics and stakeholders. As institutions of public history, they aim to build lasting relationships with their audiences, both local and international. This is especially important in post-communist and postconflict societies, where museums can play important roles in building a robust civil society and in bringing history – and historical debate – into the public domain.

The conference will explore the role of museums in negotiating new public histories in societies in transition, as old narratives and historical policies are questioned and stories once silenced are given voice. Of special interest is how the historical narratives constructed in museums help to shape new social relations in a dynamically changing present.

Scholars in various disciplines (anthropology, sociology, history, memory studies, museology, art history, and political science, among others) and museum professionals, including curators and museum educators, are invited to discuss the role of museums in negotiating contested histories in relation to their publics.

Send abstracts, maximum 300 words, and short bio to:

Deadline: 15th of September 2016.


Click here to see the full CfP and further details



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