Museum, political relevance, social justice, media
At their best, museums are institutions that create transformative experiences for their visitors. Therefore, many scholars and museum professionals have advocated for museums that do not only display narratives through their exhibitions but also take part in social change. This task becomes even more relevant when digital platforms and social media, today’s predominant sources of information as well as prime providers of spaces for social and political interactions, have proven to have negative effects for society. Despite their beneficial outcomes, new media technologies promote commoditization, ephemerality, immediacy and individualism, effects that disturb the sense of solidarity, empathy and sense of community necessary for social justice struggles.
The goal of the current research project is to augment this discussion of the political relevance of museums within the current media environment approaching it from a Media Studies perspective and provide arguments that clarify this perspective’s relevance for museum professionals. Therefore, the research question that guides this paper is as follows: to what extent do media theory frameworks help us understand the political relevance of museums in their current struggles for social justice issues?
To answer this question, this research conducts participant observation during two and-a-half years working at the Casa de la Memoria Museum [House of Memory Museum] in Medellín, Colombia, and a theory analysis in the materialist media tradition. In particular, media theorists Harold Innis, Friedrich Kittler, and Marshall McLuhan were consulted for correspondences between their reflections and the case study of the Casa de la Memoria Museum’s exhibitions MEDELLIN|ES 70 80 90 [Medellin is 70 80 90] and MEDELLIN|ES Memoria Viva [Medellin is living memory].
Master of Arts
Communication, Media and Film
Major Research Paper