CFP: The Memorial Museum in the Digital Age

Call for Contributors

E-book: The Memorial Museum in the Digital Age

The Memorial Museum in the Digital Age will be the first comprehensive review of thinking and practice related to the effects and affects of the digital for memorial museums. This type of commemorative and educational space has traditionally contained object-heavy displays to stand-in for people, cultures and things that have been destroyed. Whilst some critics believe that such exhibitions help provide a tangible ‘bridge between past and present’ (Joanne Hansen-Glucklich 2014) with objects, others have argued that they create ‘the illusion of simultaneity’ (Andrew Hoskins 2003), i.e. as if we can experience the past in the now. As Paul Williams (2007) contests, objects in the memorial museum can only ever point to the absent. This edited collection seeks to interrogate the impact the introduction of digital practices has had on these traditionally object-heavy spaces. It aims to bring together the voices of academics, archivists, activists and curators to explore questions such as:

  • How does the digital alter our relationship with things that remind us about loss and their association with the past through remediation?
  • To what extent can the digital expand the space of the memorial museum towards the ‘museum without walls’? What are the political and ethical consequences of this particularly in places where destruction of people, cultures and artefacts is ongoing?
  • To what extent are digital tools being used to interrogate spaces of contested memory?
  • How are memorial museums engaging with digital technologies? What are the challenges and opportunities of emerging platforms?
  • To what extent do concepts such as ‘the virtual’, ‘(im)materiality’, ‘loss’ and ‘interactivity’ inform uses of the digital in memorial museums and related archives?
  • To what extent can the digital offer opportunities for alternative, non-professional voices to produce, record and distribute memory of atrocities?
  • How might digital technologies challenge, change and expand our notion of what is meant by the ‘memorial museum’?
  • Where is the digital not being used and why?
  • How might the digital be used to resist practices of forgetting perpetuated by official State, national and transnational memorialisation?
  • How are visitors and the general public using digital technologies to continue or obstruct memorialisation?

Whilst there is a growing number of publications interested in museums and the digital, the specificity of the memorial museum – usually dedicated to the remembrance of people, cultures and places now destroyed – raises particular concerns relating to preservation, materiality, ethics and absence that require careful consideration in the digital age.

Academics including PhD students, museum researchers, curators, activists and archivists are encouraged to propose an abstract. Ideally, the edited collection aims to include chapters that cover a range of examples from across the world and in relation to a diverse range of genocides, conflicts, histories of slavery and colonialism, and disasters, and hopes to include theoretical pieces as well as discussions about the practices of using digital technologies in memorial museums.

Please send abstracts of 200-350 words with a short bio (no more than 150 words) to v.walden@sussex.ac.uk by March 20th2019. Finished articles would be 6,000-8,000 words in length and ETA delivery time on these will be late August 2019. If you have any queries, do not hesitate to get in contact before the deadline. In the spirit of open access and speaking across disciplines, the manuscript will be published as a free e-book. The proposal has already attracted the interest of an appropriate UK university-based publisher.

Given the e-book format, it may be possible to include video, image or interactive content to which you have the right to publish. Less traditional formats of publication are encouraged and can be discussed with the publisher at the stage of abstract submission. Please note the language of the publication will be English.

New Book: Women in the Museum: Lessons From the Workplace

From the authors:

Museums are complex workplaces.  Guardians of America’s patrimony, they are simultaneously thought of as traditional, boring and irrelevant, but also progressive, fun and important. With collections and exhibitions lauded and vilified, museums are both significant economic drivers and astoundingly vulnerable organizations.  Collectively United States museums employ nearly 353,000 people, almost half of them women.  There is no denying that most museums are stimulating and wondrous, one-of-a-kind, work environments, but two years ago we could not have imagined the gender inequity lying beneath their placid exteriors.
Women in the Museum explores the professional lives of the field’s female workforce, a cohort that grew exponentially from the late 19th-century to the present. It chronicles the challenges working women in the museum field face today, as well as their responses to widespread entrenched and unconscious gender bias.  In doing so, we hope it clarifies how women’s work in museums is different from men’s, and why we think museums must create, foster and protect a level playing field.
Along the way, we asked ourselves these questions:  Are workplace challenges more acute for women if a field is under-resourced, under-appreciated, or in some instances, under-utilized? How is leadership and internal decision-making different in female dominated museums?  Do public perceptions change toward fields where females make up half or more of the workforce?
It is difficult to write about women in the workplace and not write about diversity, and we have been taken to task for that.  It’s especially difficult in a field that since its founding has been a bastion of white, middle and upper-class men and subsequently women.  While issues of racial and ethnic diversity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability and class are often aligned with gender equity, we’ve chosen to take a bite out of the broadest and most basic of topics in one of the narrowest of fields — an environment almost exclusively nonprofit, under-resourced, and little understood by the public.  Our intent is to pull back the curtain on a long-standing and unresolved gender issue:  equity.  What we’ve written is an opening salvo deserving wider and deeper scrutiny.
We believe museums create communities. Those communities include women as subjects of collections, exhibits and programming, women as audience members and supporters, and as employees.  That said, we would like to suggest that for us diversity is the presumption that everyone has a place at the table. If you think those ideas are remnants of the 1970’s, read on. We believe there is still much work to do. And for us, inclusion as well as equity are what is important, and making sure women are represented is the place to start.