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Category: Overview / Cultural Areas / Museum & Heritage
Representing the Nation : A Reader : Histories, Heritage and Museums
Author: Jessica Evans, David Boswell
Description: In a period of globalization there has been a startling resurgence of nationalism, regionalism, and other assertions of local identity, reflected in the boom in the heritage industry in all its forms, from education in oral and social history to entertainment and tourism. But how are ideas of a unified culture and nationhood created out of the diversity of modern society? This volume gathers key writings from leading thinkers in cultural studies, cultural history, and museum studies to ask what role cultural institutions play in creating and shaping our sense of ourselves as a nation. With an international perspective focusing on the US, France, Australia, the UK and India, the contributors investigate whether cultural artefacts can represent all of us equally, as members of a given nation. The opening section explores the strategies involved in creating and sustaining a national culture, such as the standardization of language and the sidelining of regional cultures. In the second section, contributors examine the way the past is preserved, represented and consumed as our "heritage". Tracing the growth of "heritage culture" from the founding of the National Trust in 1895, to the National Heritage Acts of the 1980s, key figures in the heritage debate ask why it has become important for nations to preserve the past, and in whose name it is preserved and displayed. The third section looks at the historical development of the public museum, examining the development of conventions of classification and display, and stressing the link between the emergence of museums and the development of the modern nation state. In the final section, contributors focus on issues facing museums today: the difficulties they now encounter when facing the competing demands and interests of public funding bodies, tourist, and local or ethnically specific communitities, and argue that museums cannot continue to operate as if they are the repositories of objective and universal knowledge.
Added on: 2003-01-28 18:19:09