Museums and Memory as Agents of Social Change

By Diane Hafner, Bruce Rigsby and Lindy Allen.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Museums meet their charters in diverse ways in a multicultural society such as Australia. We view museums as places of learning that intend to engage and fascinate their audiences. Increasingly museums engage in processes of brokerage through which source communities become active participants in curation activities. These processes are not necessarily transparent. Focusing on the aspirations of the Lamalama people of Cape York Peninsula, Australia, we consider how museums can now contribute to the Aboriginal communities whose cultural heritage materials they hold. We draw on specific collections, particularly the photographic images in the Donald Thomson Collection, to describe how community wishes have been accommodated in a research project that uses multidisciplinary methods, including video-recording, to further develop curatorial processes that explore the potential of museums as venues for social change.

Keywords: Museums, Aboriginal, Curation, Social Change, Lamalama People, Identity, Ethnographic Collections, Donald Thomson, Memory

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.87-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 590.841KB).

Dr. Diane Hafner

Lecturer, Behavioural Studies, Social and Behavioural Sciences Faculty, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Diane Hafner is a lecturer in the Behavioural Studies Program at the University of Queensland. Her broad area of interest is Australian Indigenous studies, in particular factors in identity formation. Her most recent research with the Lamalama people is concerned with the importance of the past and how it is accessed in conditions of social marginalisation. This research is focused on the cultural practices associated with memory and the past.

Prof. Bruce Rigsby

Emeritus, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Bruce Rigsby is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Queensland. He has done research with the Lamalama people and their neighbours since 1972. Over the years he has sought to understand, analyse and describe their social organisation and traditional-customary land and marine tenure. He has also been engaged in native title and other land-related research for the Lamalama people and their neighbours.

Lindy Allen

Senior Curator, Indigenous Cultures, Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Lindy Allen is a curator at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Victoria. Her research interests lie in cultural anthropology specifically material culture, especially fibre work, as well as Aboriginal art and museology. Her most recent research has focussed on exploring cultural meanings and understandings of heritage collections in relation to source communities. She has undertaken extensive fieldwork and fostered relationships with a number of communities in Cape York Peninsula and Arnhem Land.


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