On Friday, May 5, 2017, at 6.00 p.m., Prof. Andrea Witcomb (Deakin University, Melbourne Australia) will address the topic “Responding to the global movement of people – learning to live with difference”. The lecture is presented by the Hellenic National Committee of ICOM (15, Ag. Assomaton Street in Thission, Athens).


Museums have long been called upon to respond to the pressing issues facing contemporary society – to the legacy of colonialism, to the massive displacement of peoples across the world and the increasing pressures on our environment as the result of our carbon rich lifestyles. There is, by now, a history of these responses, which has been well documented in the many analyses of the more inclusive and collaborative practices that have emerged since the 1980s. What is perhaps not so well understood is that these responses are passing into history and that we are not doing the same museology as that which characterized the new museology of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Museums, I want to argue, are exploring new ways of responding to these calls as the salience of the problems we face have become sharper and more pressing. In this paper, then, I want to provide you with an initial interpretation of what the contours of these new responses might be, and give you some examples from my own part of the world – Australia.

My focus will be on tracing new ways of dealing with the legacy of migration history, away from a simple call for tolerance for more understanding of history and a greater degree of empathy. These new practices, I will argue, are not simply about the inclusion of diverse points of views and the representation of difference. They are, instead, concerned with a destabilization of the assumptions that support the normalized sense of self that is routinely performed in our everyday lives in order to reconstitute it in new relations to those we normally see as ‘other’.

The lecture will be in english.