Representing disabilities in museums

Inter- and transnational affairs, please write in English - thanks... feel free to write and enjoy

Representing disabilities in museums

Beitrag von blanka » 25. Januar 2008 10:31

Hi, I read this today in the H Museum mailing list, maybe some you might be interested, or maybe it s a nice start into discussion...

sorry for copypasting a long article but i was too lazy to look it up on the web and post the right link...


Call for papers

Re-Presenting Disability:
Museums and the Politics of Display

Editors: Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd, Rosemarie Garland Thomson

This edited volume of original, provocative, timely and scholarly papers,
(published in book form), will bring together around 20 researchers,
practitioners and academics from different disciplinary and institutional
contexts to explore issues surrounding the cultural representation of
disabled people and, more particularly, the inclusion (as well as the marked
absence) of disability-related narratives in museum and gallery displays.

Whilst museums and galleries provide the focus for this collection of
writings, contributions from leading-edge researchers in disability and
cultural studies - concerned with related areas of interest and different
sites of representation - will serve to illuminate debates and
representational practices within museums and museum studies.

Museums and social agency

Research in recent years has highlighted the constitutive or generative
capacities of museums - their potential to shape, rather than simply
reflect, social relations and realities. Museum displays, and the
representations of difference embodied within them, have social effects and

Very often these effects have been understood to be negative. Museums have
been identified as agencies which both shape and reinforce dominant
(oppressive, discriminatory) understandings of difference by excluding and
marginalising (through elision) or by constructing representations that are
reductive, essentialising and often negatively stereotypical. By casting
racial, gender, physical and other 'variations' as inferior or deviant,
museums have privileged ways of seeing that have made prejudiced
understandings of difference both more perceptible and permissible.

In recent years, however, there has been growing interest amongst both
museum practitioners and researchers in the potential for museums to develop
exhibitions and educational initiatives which attempt to open up
possibilities for mutual respect and understanding between different social
groups. An increasing number of museums have experimented with new forms of
practice - collaboration and consultation with diverse communities; the
staging of interpretive interventions purposefully designed to mitigate,
complicate or subvert prevalent stereotypes; innovative approaches to
interpretation and exhibition design; the development of more inclusive ways
of working and so on - which aim to generate for visitors (and society more
broadly), alternative, more equitable ways of seeing, thinking and talking
about difference.

The last two decades have seen a proliferation of projects designed to
redress the exclusion and misrepresentation of women, of minority ethnic and
indigenous communities and, rather more rarely, of sexual minorities and
different faith groups. However, despite relatively widespread professional
and academic interest in these 'hidden histories', it is only in the last
few years that there has been growing recognition of the invisibility and
misrepresentation of disabled people within museum and gallery displays.
( ... sentationu

Themes and questions

Re-Presenting Disability: Museums and the Politics of Display, will address
a number of timely questions including:

* In what ways have disabled people and disability-related topics
historically been represented in the collections and displays of museums and
galleries? How can newly emerging representational forms and practices be
viewed in relation to these historical approaches?
* How do emerging trends in museum practice - designed to counter
prejudiced, stereotypical representations of disabled people - relate to
broader developments in disability rights, debates in disability studies, as
well as shifting interpretive practices in public history and mass media?
* What approaches can be deployed to mine and interrogate existing
collections to investigate histories of disability and disabled people to
identify material evidence that might be marshalled to play a part in
countering prejudice? What are the implications of these developments for
contemporary collecting?
* How might such purposive displays be created and what dilemmas and
challenges are curators, educators, designers and other actors in the
exhibition-making process, likely to encounter along the way?
* How do audiences - disabled and non-disabled - respond to and engage with
interpretive interventions designed to confront, undercut or reshape
dominant regimes of representation that underpin and inform contemporary
attitudes to disability?
* In what ways are debates around disability rights shaping broader
management philosophies and practices (for example, around workforce
diversity) in museums and galleries?

Call for papers

Each of the editors will contribute a chapter. David Hevey (author of The
Creatures Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery, Routledge 1992),
is also a confirmed contributor.

If you would like to propose a contribution to this exciting new volume,
please send a 300-500 word abstract as well as a short (2 page maximum)
curriculum vitae to Dr. Richard Sandell, (
<mailto> ) Department of Museum Studies, University of

The deadline for abstracts is January 31st 2008. The deadline for accepted
essays (approx. 5,000-8,000 words) will be December 15, 2008.

Submissions will be reviewed by the book's editors:

Richard Sandell, Head of Department of Museum Studies and co-director,
Rethinking Disability Representation, University of Leicester, UK.

Jocelyn Dodd, Director, RCMG (Research Centre for Museums and Galleries) and
co-director, Rethinking Disability Representation, University of Leicester,

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, Emory
University, USA.

Jim Roberts Hon FMA
University of Leicester
Department of Museum Studies

+44 (0)116 252 3961

H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies

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Beitrag von Michael13 » 25. Januar 2008 22:22

Hallo liebe Blanka, hallo liebe/r LeserIn,

hmm, so weit ich das verstehe, geht es um die Darstellung von Behinderungen (jeglicher Art) in Museum, richtig?

Wenn ich das richtig interpretiert habe, dann dürfte es wohl schwierig sein, was das Thema Stottern anbetrifft, weil es dazu meines Wissens kaum etws in Museen gibt bzw. ich nichts davon weiß (was wohl wahrscheinlicher ist :)) ... Ich weiß, dass das Dresdner Hygienemuseum mal etwas in ihrer Ausstellung "Der imperfekte Mensch" ( drin hatten. Doch das weißt du ja wahrscheinlich besser als ich, hattest du da nicht selbst im Team mitgewirkt? :)

Hmm, wie siehst du denn die Wahrnehmung des Thema Stotterns in den Museen dieser Welt, Blanka? :)

Allen alles Gute, ciao Micha.


Beitrag von blanka » 15. Februar 2008 13:05


;) is it still only English or German or anything?

Also, wie auch immer, schreib ich auch auf Deutsch.

Ich war nicht an der Ausstellung beteiligt und ich meine mich zu erinnern, dass es eher um Körperbehinderte ging - das ist übrigens bei der tschechischen Bahn so prima - wenn da die Durchsage auf dem Bahnsteig kommt, der Zug aus Wien nach Hamburg trifft gleich ein, dann ist da die Rede vom "Abteil für Körperbehinderte". Aber die Diskussion um "Behindert"-Definition, die hatten wir ja schon mal und wäre hier wohl off topic.

Stottern kann man schon auch im Museum repräsentieren - heute geht doch alles, heute hat man Multimedia zur Verfügung - ach und selbst wenn das nicht wär, alles ist darstellbar. Audiobeispiele, Geschichten von Diskriminierung, Filmbeispiele etc.

Wäre auch mal so ein Projekt - über die üblichen Fotos auf Stellwänden hinausgehend...


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