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Museums, Trans Youth and Institutional Change: Transforming Heritage Institutions through Collaborative Practice

Datum: 2016-06-22
Tid: 13:15-15:00
Plats: Göteborg
Typ: Seminar

Museums, Trans Youth and Institutional Change: Transforming Heritage Institutions through Collaborative Practice

Over the last decade transgender issues have received increasing attention in Euro-American societies, which has contributed to advancing the agenda of trans groups (Hines 2010). Up until recently, however, transgender individuals and ‘communities’ have been largely absent in museum displays and heritage narratives (Levin 2010, Mills 2010, Sandell 2007). In the UK this trend started to shift in 2014, when a number of major, mainly national, museums started coproducing - in partnership with trans ‘communities’ - exhibitions or displays representing trans identities and heritage.

This talk focuses on a collaborative initiative between the Science Museum, London, and Gendered Intelligence, a London’s Community Interest Company focusing on trans youth (2013-2014). More specifically, I examine the process of co-designing the display ‘What makes your gender’ for the Science Museum’s Who Am I? gallery, which was led by a group of trans young people. Drawing on an ethnographic, empirically-grounded study of this collaborative museum process - to which I contributed as a participant-observer, I will reflect upon museum collaborative practice. More specifically, I use this participatory project to examine museums’ potential to reconfigure, in more democratic ways, knowledge production approaches, while also initiating processes of institutional change. The picture that should emerge through the discussion is a complex and multifaceted one, depicting museums as heritage institutions intersecting with power, inequalities, and identity politics, and also having the potential to contribute to sociocultural change.

Place: Room C417, School of Global Studies.