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By Richard Sandell

How, if all of it, do museums form the ways that society is familiar with distinction? In contemporary a long time there was becoming overseas curiosity among practitioners, teachers and coverage makers within the function that museums may possibly play in confronting prejudice and selling human rights and cross-cultural figuring out. Museums in lots of components of the area are more and more involved to build exhibitions which characterize, in additional equitable methods, the culturally pluralist societies in which they function, accommodating and fascinating with alterations at the foundation of gender, race, ethnicity, category, faith, incapacity, sexuality and so forth. regardless of the ubiquity of those traits, there's however constrained realizing of the social results, and attendant political results, of those purposive representational options. Richard Sandell combines interdisciplinary theoretical views with in-depth empirical research to deal with a couple of well timed questions. How do audiences interact with and reply to exhibitions designed to contest, subvert and reconfigure prejudiced conceptions of social teams? To what quantity can museums be understood to form, now not easily replicate, normative understandings of distinction, acceptability and tolerance? What are the demanding situations for museums which try to interact audiences in debating morally charged and contested modern social concerns and the way may perhaps those be addressed? Sandell argues that museums body, tell and let the conversations which audiences and society extra generally have approximately distinction and highlights the ethical and political demanding situations, possibilities and duties which accompany those constitutive traits.

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Additional info for Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference

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These issues resurface at different points throughout the book and, since they emerge from my analysis as especially salient, their implications are explored in greater depth in the concluding chapter. Discursive analyses of prejudice Challenges to mainstream social psychological approaches that conceptualise prejudice in predominantly individualistic and cognitivist terms as a ‘personal pathology’ (Wetherell and Potter 1992: 208) have been made not only on political and moral grounds but also more fundamentally in terms of their capacity to explain and explore prejudice as a social phenomenon.

26 2 ON PREJUDICE Visitors to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California are invited to enter the main exhibition space through one of two entrances – the first marked ‘Prejudiced’ and the second, ‘Unprejudiced’ (Fig. 1). Those attempting to enter through the second doorway find that it is locked, a device designed to frame the ways in which visitors approach the interactive exhibits they subsequently encounter. Visitors progress (through the ‘Prejudiced’ doorway) into ‘The Tolerancenter’ with wide-ranging interactive exhibits designed to highlight the causes and consequences of prejudice and discrimination, to reveal the power of words and images to shape lives, to promote respect for difference and to assert the significance of personal responsibility and individual choices (Geft 2005).

Furthermore, categories are not treated as cognitive phenomena that are located in people’s heads – as preformed static structures that are organized around prototypical representations of the category. Rather, discursive psychology emphasizes that people constitute categories discursively in order to do things. (LeCouteur and Augoustinos 2001: 219) From a discursive perspective, categorisation is therefore seen as ‘a complex and subtle social accomplishment’ (Potter and Wetherell 1987: 116) – used for certain ends such as blaming, justifying, refuting, accusing, excusing or persuading (LeCouteur and Augoustinos 2001).

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