Universiteit Leiden

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Museum Realisms

  • James Clifford
Tuesday 10 May 2016
Steenstraat 1
2312 BS Leiden

James Clifford will be a FEL-Fellow at the RCMC in April and May. On May 10th, James Clifford (UC Santa Cruz) will deliver a lecture on "Museum Realisms" with short comments by Peter Pels, Susan Legêne, and Pieter ter Keurs. All are welcome.


Museum Realisms

Realism is a concept usually associated with scientific objectivity or with philosophical conceptions of the "fact of the matter." In literature it denotes the social/historical novel with its complex portrayals of character and milieu. What does realism mean in museum contexts, especially those concerned with cross cultural translation? What forms can realism take in changing times? 

Today ethnology museums feel increasing pressure to justify their existence. In response, many are transforming themselves into centers for "world arts and cultures." They experiment with new spaces of performance and dialogical modes of presentation.

This lecture explores emergent practices of display and reception--reflexive and postcolonial. It weighs their ability to deliver complex, historically embedded, "realist" truths about selves and others in a decentered world.


Co-sponsored by the RCMC and Global Interactions

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