Museums and Politics: An Introduction
Concerns about the source of items in museum collections following the abstraction of material from, and the outright pillaging of, sites of antiquity in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia and China have certainly demonstrated that the heated arguments about the Elgin marbles in the United Kingdom and the remains of Kennewick Man in the United States have not produced conclusive solutions to such concerns, even if they have contributed to the production of present-day international codes of conduct to cover such events. Being political, however, involves more than the simple presence of matters of contention — it also involves the mechanisms by which these may be resolved, who is rightfully involved in producing such resolutions, and the basis upon which they can then be justified to local, national and international communities. To this extent it is not the fact that museums are political institutions that is important but, rather, how this political dimension of museums can be understood and made sense of. This book is centrally concerned with providing explanations of the multiple ways in which museums are political, ranging from their relationship to globalisation and post-colonialism, to how policy choices are made within individual museums, to the role of professionals and members of the public in influencing what occurs inside both the museum itself as well as the museums sector as a whole.
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