6 December 2011

CfP: Cultures of Curating: Curatorial Practices and the Production of Meaning c. 1650-2000

The 2012 conference of the Museums and Galleries History Group, to be held at the University of Lincoln 12-13 July 2012

Call for papers

While museum history now acknowledges the constructed nature of the museum narrative, and maintains that museum work such as cataloguing, conserving and displaying is not neutral, but actually produces meaning, relatively little work has examined the ways in which curatorial practices have developed, and the specific consequences for museums. Display has attracted most of the work that has been done, but ‘behind the scenes’ activities have not been investigated in such depth. We seek submissions which investigate any aspect of the developing work of the curator, from creating an acquisitions policy, to labelling and documentation, to publicity work, as we wish to explore curating as both craft and profession. We also invite contributors to consider how curatorial practices constituted the museum object, and attempted to produce or suppress certain meanings for museum objects; and how such practices formed particular relationships between curators and other museum figures such as donors and visitors. We are interested in submissions which consider a wide variety of periods and places, and all types of curating, from fine art to science.

Confirmed keynote speaker: Dr Sam Alberti, Director, Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.

We invite papers on themes such as:

How curators were trained, and how they understood their role

Cataloguing and museum documentation

Acquisition – the role of the curator

Conservation and storage

Display and interpretation

How and why curatorial practices changed

The role of place and space in shaping curatorial practices

Curatorial practices, disciplines and discourses of knowledge

Curatorial practices and relationships with the wider public

We also invite session proposals. Session proposals should include a brief outline of the session (250 words) as well as three abstracts (300 words max. each) for the proposed session. For session proposals, please indicate who will chair the session.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to chair@mghg.org or Kate Hill (khill@lincoln.ac.uk)

Closing date for proposals: 1 February 2012

(Please note, all those attending and giving papers will need to pay the registration fee)

1 December 2011

Symposium: Cultures of Decolonisation, c.1945-1970

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, Senate House
Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sketch for proposed British Guiana court, Commonwealth Institute. James Gardner, c. 1961. Design Archives, University of Brighton

Keynote Speaker: Dr Bill Schwarz, Queen Mary, University of London

This symposium will bring together scholars with an interest in the cultural practices, performances and material cultures of decolonisation, c.1945-1970.

While the problems of ‘empire’ and ‘the postcolonial’ have come under increasing scrutiny in the humanities and social sciences in recent years, and debate about the political and economic processes of decolonisation is well established, the cultural sites, spaces and social practices of this process in the middle years of the twentieth century have often been overlooked.

Yet new scholarship is beginning to point to the attention that the literary, visual and built environment paid to political, economic and social change in this period. In addition, the roles of individuals and institutions in cultural practices and performances of decolonisation are now drawing critical attention from a variety of fields. This symposium will bring together scholars from history, art and design history, cultural geography, literature, museum studies, architecture and other cultural fields to further explore these topics with regard to decolonisation between 1945 and 1970.

We invite contributions which examine aspects of cultural engagements with decolonisation. Papers may consider the peoples, sites, materials and practices of emerging and newly independent nations, as well as the processes of decolonisation as enacted in Europe. This event will lend new insights into debates about the contested nature of decolonisation, and into the impact of cultural practices on socio-political processes.

Entrance Hall, the Royal Commonwealth Society, 1959 RCS II (e) 6 http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/deptserv/rcs/modernCommonwealth/
Papers might focus on:

Cultural institutions and their reactions to and engagements with decolonisation
Amateurs, professionals and enthusiasts in decolonisation
Imperial knowledges, materials and collections, and their place in a decolonising world
Specific media as arenas for political exchange
Cultural sites of independence and decolonisation
Visual and performance cultures of decolonisation
Decolonising lives
Networks of decolonisation

Please send abstracts of 250 words or expressions of interest to Dr Ruth Craggs, St Mary’s University College (craggsr@smuc.ac.uk) and Dr Claire Wintle, University of Brighton (c.wintle@brighton.ac.uk) by 30 January 2012.

Symposium Website:

Supported by the Institute for Commonwealth Studies, University of London; School of Humanities, University of Brighton, and St Mary’s University College.