REPRESENTING ENSLAVEMENT AND ABOLITION IN MUSEUMS

REPRESENTING ENSLAVEMENT AND ABOLITION IN MUSEUMS.

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The year 2007 marked the bicentenary of the Act abolishing British participation in the slave trade. Though the occasion was heralded by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair as being 'everyone's bicentenary', it was marked in practice by debates and critical exchanges which related both to the content of the commemoration and to the spirit in which it was undertaken. Museums as public institutions were influenced by these debates and were caught up in them as active participants, but their engagement with them, although substantial, was often uneasy and ambiguous, in ways that reflected uncertainties both about the social role of museums in contemporary society, and about their relationship to established narratives of national identity. This book - which uniquely draws together contributions from academic commentators, museum professionals, community activists and artists who had an involvement with the bicentenary a reflects on the complexity and difficulty of museums' experiences in presenting and interpreting the histories of slavery and abolition, and to place these experiences in the broader context of debates over the bicentenary's significance and the lessons to be learnt from it.
The history of Britaina (TM)s role in the transatlantic slave trade officially became part of the National Curriculum in 2009; with the bicentenary of 2007, this marks the start of increasing public engagement with what has largely been a a ~hiddena (TM) history. The book not only critically reviews and assesses the impact of the bicentenary, but also identifies practical issues that public historians, consultants, museum practitioners, heritage professionals and policy makers can draw upon in developing responses, both to the increasing recognition of Britaina (TM)s history of African enslavement and controversial and traumatic histories more generally.

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