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Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0822338949
ISBN-10: 0822338947
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Editorial Reviews


Museum Frictions is a landmark publication which decenters the Western-centric bias of the existing literature. It shifts critical museology into a new register by challenging readers to think about the multiple ways that the globalization of a Western institution is transforming not only the dynamics of social interaction around the world but also the institutional nature of the museum itself.”—Ruth B. Phillips, coeditor of Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums, and Material Culture

Museum Frictions is not just a worthy successor to the preceding volumes Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities, but a major leap forward. In the face of dramatic changes in the museum world during the past fifteen years, the last two volumes still remain a major platform for framing debate. I am confident that Museum Frictions will provide a similar service for the next fifteen.”—Doran H. Ross, Director Emeritus of the Fowler Museum at UCLA

“Just as Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities set the agenda for museum debate over the last decade, Museum Frictions sets the agenda for the next. This is a wonderful book that must be read by anybody with an interest in museums, their transformations, dilemmas, challenges, politics, and futures.”—Sharon Macdonald, editor of A Companion to Museum Studies

“This marvelous and broad-ranging compendium by an eminent group of scholars provides a thinking person’s guide to contemporary museum work. It tackles the philosophical issues curators, directors, and professionals face in the art of cultural representation. How do you get the world’s diverse people to talk to each other in meaningful and significant ways? This book provides the intellectual tools for doing so, dealing cogently and adeptly with the complexity of globalization, conflicting perspectives, and the noise proffered by popular media. For a long book with large themes, it reads amazingly well.”—Richard Kurin, Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution

Museum Frictions challenges traditional thinking and will spark new debates and conversations that will undoubtedly add to a growing literature on the role of museums in a postmodern world. The geographically and culturally diverse case studies provide insights into museum interpretation that will be of interest to historians and museum professionals working in a wide range of public cultural venues. They also provide an important snapshot of museums and historical organizations in the context of the global changes affecting museums worldwide.”
(Barbara Franco, Journal of American History)

Museum Frictions will have a significant impact not only on museum scholarship, but also on researchers exploring public institutions and community politics more generally. In particular, while existing literature has commonly glossed over the challenges faced by community museums, viewing them merely as vehicles for empowerment, this book tackles head-on their struggles in finding stability within the changeable politics of both their local and global arenas. In opening up these provocative areas to debate, this book is sure to strengthen and enhance our understanding of relationships between regional and international players in the museum world and thus, the transnational nature of problems of representation. It also provides a practical guide for museum professionals, potentially developing new ideologies and procedures that may help minimize future museum frictions.”
(Gwyneira Isaac, African Arts)

About the Author

Ivan Karp is National Endowment for the Humanities Professor and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory University. He has coedited numerous books, including Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture and Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display.

Corinne A. Kratz is Professor of Anthropology and African Studies and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory University. She is the author of The Ones That Are Wanted: Communication and the Politics of Representation in a Photographic Exhibition.

Lynn Szwaja is Program Director for Theology at the Henry Luce Foundation.

Tomás Ybarra-Frausto was, until retirement in 2005, Associate Director for Creativity and Culture at the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1998, he was awarded the Joseph Henry Medal for “exemplary contributions to the Smithsonian Institution.”


Product Details

  • Paperback: 632 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (December 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822338947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822338949
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #970,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
While I found a few gems and insights, this 600-plus page tome needed a good book editor to boil it down to maybe 200 pages. It appears a bunch of noted academics were trying to appear, well, academic, and they succeeded. Single sentences the length of paragraphs, simple words with superfluous suffixes added--I kept saying to myself, "just say it already--stop trying to impress me with how you can bury a simple point in a massive flood of verbage." I reccommend the first book in this series, "Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display" (1991) as being much more accessible and helpful.
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