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Museums, Memory and Human Rights: A Transnational and Comparative Case Study

Graefenstein, Sulamith

Description

In the past decade, scholars have proposed that Holocaust memory facilitates the spread of universal human rights values and thereby promotes transnational and even global solidarity. To date, this argument has largely been based on the evidence of Holocaust memory practices in Western countries, and even so, it has not been thoroughly tested in the context of the public museum. Although human rights museums have emerged around the world over the past few decades, current research focuses...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorGraefenstein, Sulamith
dc.date.accessioned2018-12-03T06:26:23Z
dc.date.available2018-12-03T06:26:23Z
dc.identifier.otherb5807711x
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/154270
dc.description.abstractIn the past decade, scholars have proposed that Holocaust memory facilitates the spread of universal human rights values and thereby promotes transnational and even global solidarity. To date, this argument has largely been based on the evidence of Holocaust memory practices in Western countries, and even so, it has not been thoroughly tested in the context of the public museum. Although human rights museums have emerged around the world over the past few decades, current research focuses predominantly on Western human rights museums. Prior studies have therefore failed to evaluate how the differences and commonalities in human rights museology that characterise Western and non-Western approaches to addressing difficult heritage are shaped by unique cultural and cross-cultural contexts. This thesis aims to redress this gap through a transnational and comparative study of five human rights museums and memorial museums located in Western Europe, North America, and Asia. It investigates how shared institutional purposes and overlapping commemorative practices in contemporary Western human rights museums are shaped by a critical engagement with the legacy of the Holocaust that grew out of a post-war commemorative tradition. On the one hand, this thesis thus contributes to the study of globalised Holocaust memory from a perspective that considers its limits in facilitating the emergence of cosmopolitan solidarity communities, a topic which has only been raised recently. On the other hand, it makes an original contribution to the emerging body of research on a new type of museum representing violent pasts through the adoption of a human rights-based approach. The aim of this critical analysis, based on exhibition contents, museum-authored material, government-related documentation, and semi-structured expert interviews with museum professionals, is twofold. First, it investigates how the global dissemination of Holocaust memories and their associated commemorative practices have influenced the ways in which contemporary museums deal with difficult heritage by adopting a human rights approach. It proposes that de–territorialised uses of the Holocaust did indeed penetrate human rights museums dealing with the representation of difficult pasts in North America, but that this is not the case in Asia, where the Holocaust plays no significant role in addressing difficult heritage. Second, it critically examines the nature and scope of the imagined communities these overlapping practices give rise to in the Euro-American context of contemporary human rights-based museum work. This thesis finds that although Holocaust memory arguably travels globally, the ways in which it has forged ties between various political communities are distinct. These ties, which are based on shared understandings about this past, are transnational or as I suggest transregional, and primarily affect museum-based efforts of (trans-)national community building in Western Europe and North America. In exposing these connections through comparative analyses of contemporary human rights-based museum work and pedagogy, this thesis enhances knowledge of the border-crossing dynamics of political community building. It posits that the processes of collective memory production are always rooted in and thereby limited by specific cross-regional political and historical contexts.
dc.format.extent1 vol.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherCanberra, ACT : The Australian National University
dc.rightsAuthor retains copyright
dc.subjectHuman Rights Museums, Holocaust Memory, Difficult Heritage
dc.titleMuseums, Memory and Human Rights: A Transnational and Comparative Case Study
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.institutionThe Australian National University
local.contributor.supervisorKennedy, Rosanne
local.contributor.supervisorcontactrosanne.kennedy@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2018
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationCollege of Arts and Social Sciences
local.description.embargo2023-06-12
local.request.emailrepository.admin@anu.edu.au
local.request.nameDigital Theses
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d5140757ebb8
dcterms.accessRightsRestricted access
dc.provenance2.7.20/ Restriction approved until 12 June 2023 by Dean(HDR). ejg
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsRestricted Theses

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