University of Leicester 萊斯特大學

Working Collaboratively: Education and Engagement at the Creative Frontiers of the Art Museum

In this session participants will examine how museums can become inclusive sites for learning and understanding about 'Others' and 'Ourselves' through museum collections. We will consider the nature of learning from material culture and the intangible heritage - the stories, songs and dances - from which such culture emerges. Delegates should come ready to engage in some interactive experiences.

I specifically want to share with you my collaborative work with Professor Joan Anim-Addo of Goldsmiths College London and the Caribbean Women Writers' Alliance (CWWA), which I outline in chapter two of my 2009 monograph Learning at the Museum Frontiers: Identity, Race and Power. This collaboration is international and longstanding, now spanning over several decades, most recently with Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC 2011-13) funding on a 'Translating Cultures' theme and that I reference in my 2013 paper 'Museums, Poetics Affect' for the journal Feminist Review. My focus, which is highly relevant to the conference in China, will be on building new theoretical frameworks from outside of the Western world to inform museum practice, which I employed by collaborating with the CWWA community and the AHRC network. I shall consider together with delegates the revaluing of traditional knowledge(s) and the sensory ways of knowing that emphasize creativity in terms of process and outputs, as well as issues of agency and authority that can be contested at certain frontier zones such as the museum.

Overall I will pose a series of questions for delegates, which highlight the complexity of the issues. I ask. How, if at all, might individuals come to deeper understandings of self and other in museums? To what extent might a respectful attention to the material culture and intangible heritage of diverse communities promote intercultural dialogue? Who owns cultural heritage in museums; where are the boundaries of power and control?

To interrogate these ideas our audience will be invited to engage in some active learning experiences to explore embodied knowledge construction, specifically the interconnections with objects and the 5 senses we commonly count in the west that are challenged by CWWA. Then delegates will be able to hear some Caribbean sounds, the poet's wonderful strong voices and the demotic languages that helped to raise new voices and visibilities in the context of the Horniman Museum, in London UK. Finally a creative writing exercise will be offered to delegates before some tentative conclusions drawn.