Affect and registers of engagement: Navigating emotional responses to dissonant heritages

Laurajane Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)


    Education and learning are central issues in the museological literature and are often assumed to be one of the main, if not the key, underlying reason that people visit museums. This chapter suggests that the debates on education and learning often neglect the way museums are used to navigate social debate and, in particular, social controversy. It is suggested that one of the key things that visitors seek to do is to use museums to reinforce their emotional and intellectual commitment to certain forms of knowledge and the values that they underpin. These may include such things as nationalism, class solidarity, ethnic identities, political ideologies and so forth. To develop this argument, the chapter explores the role emotion plays when visitors engage with diffi cult museum exhibitions, and how emotional responses infl uence the ways in which visitors engage with, or disengage from, exhibition content, and thus the way they use their visits to negotiate social and historical issues.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRepresenting Enslavement and Abolition in Museums
    Subtitle of host publicationAmbiguous Engagements
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages44
    ISBN (Electronic)9781136667381
    ISBN (Print)9780415885041
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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