Undergraduate Seminar: Social Justice and Museum Studies
How can museums become sites for social justice work? In 1793, the National Assembly in France opened the Louvre as an art museum, articulating a Western connection between museums and the spaces of democracy that continues to the present. Some have understood museums as democratic spaces that store and display objects for all. More recently, publics have begun to hold museums to account for the legacies of colonization that undergird those of democracy. In this class we will analyze colonial histories and decolonizing engagements, as well as the potential of museums to be spaces of inclusion, justice, accessibility, and anti-racist action.
This seminar will focus on collections of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, although we will likely be working with collections virtually. Following reading in museum studies, decolonial theories, and material cultural methods, students will select their own objects for study (subject to the approval of the instructor and the Museum’s staff). We will focus on virtual access to collections and research on the social lives of specific objects, growing skills in provenance research and interpretation.
This course fulfills the following requirements for the History of Art major: Geographical area (C) and Chronological period (III).