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European Commission European Research Area & Seventh Framework Programme. Funded under Socio-economic Sciences & Humanities


Great historical narratives in Europe’s national museums


25-26 November 2011

Paris, Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (to be confirmed)

Conference organised by Pr. Dominique Poulot, Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne in collaboration with Eunamus – European National Museums: Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen.

To what extent can national museums be considered as authors of great historical narratives? National museums have since their inception been key to establishing narratives of the political, military, territorial, social and economic construction of the nation. In disciplinary terms, the archaeological museum is central to forging national origins in a more or less far off past. The nation’s genius, may be read in the different narratives that art history constructs, whilst folk and rural culture, as considered by ethnology construct notions of authenticity of the people.

This conference aims to consider the major ideological programmes implemented by museums and how these are visualized and translated into museographical terms – from explicative texts to the disposition of objects, scenographic installations, multimedia presentations etc. Can one identify a « national tale » (roman national), as the idea of a stereotypical version of the nation’s past, in the ambiguous relationship between narrative and the complex and not necessarily coherent range of objects that can make up a museum’s collections. Looking at traditional as well as revised versions of national narratives, particular attention will be given to the representation of conflict, to shared and opposing tales – but also to silences and absence. Issues of provenance related to repatriation claims may also be considered.

Why are certain themes and types of collections preponderant at different moments throughout the nation’s history? The interdependence of narratives, in relation to past versions or to those established by other nations should also be stressed. In order to address these questions, approaches that take into account the social, political, religious and cultural issues that subtend the elaboration of national scenarios will be privileged.

Please send proposals of no more than 500 words, for 20 min presentations to eunamus3@gmail.com, or Felicity.Bodenstein@univ-paris1.fr by the 23rd of September.


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