The role of museums as ‘places of social justice’: Community consultation and the 1807 bicentenary

Laurajane Smith, Kalliopi Fouseki

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

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Community consultation has become a standard policy response in the museum sector to social inclusion initiatives. It is also a strategy often used to avoid controversy, particularly in relation to the development of contentious or dissonant museum exhibitions (Watson 2007a: 2). This is because ‘community consultation’ is a phrase that implies a seemingly standard and straightforward process of meetings and discussions between museums and stakeholder communities, which are designed to arrive at consensus. The relationship between communities and the heritage sector, museums included, is, as Crooke notes, considered to have ‘so natural an affi nity that it hardly needs justifi cation or explanation’ (2010: 17). Moreover, the idea of ‘community’ often has a feel good component to it; it is a term that generates feelings of warmth and safety (Bauman 2001). Indeed, there is a real sense within the heritage and museums sector that community consultation is about doing ‘good works’, and it is something that professionals can feel warm and cuddly about (Smith and Waterton 2009). Nonetheless, the relationship between communities, however they may be defi ned, and museums is anything but straightforward.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRepresenting Enslavement and Abolition in Museums
    Subtitle of host publicationAmbiguous Engagements
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9781136667381
    ISBN (Print)9780415885041
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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