Deciphering museums, politics and impact
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This paper makes a contribution towards deciphering the relationship between museums, politics and impact. I suggest that this is akin to that between three languages in the early 19th century: Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphs. I argue that museums should be taken much more seriously by the discipline of politics and international relations. This paper begins with an analysis of the REF 2014 Impact Case Studies submitted under the Politics and International Studies Unit of Assessment. Thereafter, it looks at how museums have been examined in the field of politics and international relations. Finally, it outlines some of the benefits and opportunities of scholars in the field engaging with museums in terms of their research, as potential collaborators, and as partners for knowledge transfer and impactful activities—within and outwith the strictures of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF).
KeywordsMuseums History Politics Impact Public history Knowledge transfer
Most recently, this research was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; more distantly, by Glasgow City Council. I would like to thank these funders and the amazing museum professionals I had the pleasure to work with at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and Glasgow Museums from whom I learned so much—not least about how history and politics are mediated through museums. I would particularly like to thank (in alphabetical order): Ed Berenson, Clifford Chanin, Alexandra Drakakis, Alice Greenwald, Liz Mazucci, Jenny Pachucki, Jan Ramirez, Noah Rauch, Madeline Rosenberg, Joshua Walker and Amy Weinstein. Finally, I would also like to thank the editors of this special edition.
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