University of Leicester
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New voices and visibilities at the museum frontiers

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:45 authored by Vivien Marion Golding
In this thesis the research question asks how can we use the museum's collections to raise the voices and make visible those who are misrepresented, silenced or excluded by the traditional framing of knowledge in ethnographic museums? In answering this question the intention of the research is to change hierarchical practices, and open up the frontiers between the museum and its audience. The focus of the research is on school communities to explore the possibilities of museums contributing to the creation of new identities and understandings, of self and others.;A new theoretical base and methodology is developed, an ethnographic action reaction approach informed by feminist-hermeneutic discourse, in the first 4 chapters of this thesis. It is essentially a participatory research method, which views theory and practice as a continuous cyclical process. The process demands a circle of: reflection, action, dialogical exchange and reflection from all participants. In chapters 5-8 the concentration of the thesis is on 4 project areas in order to develop the theory in practice. An African-Caribbean voices project acts as a link between theory and practice, a dialogical questionnaire project examines the establishment of a broad-based research team; a Benin project and a carnival arts project investigate work at a single field-site.;The case studies illuminate aspects of the research question through a critique of the collaborative actions taken to re-frame traditional museum meaning(s). They illustrate ways in which collaborative museum programmes can facilitate processes, which reconstruct the meaning of objects and others, and thereby reconstruct an expanded meaning of selves. In this way the thesis demonstrates how a number of subversive strategies can be developed to increase the interpretive possibilities of museums, to raise a plurivocality of voices at the museum-school frontiers and make visible formally invisible identities.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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