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Critical heritages and serious play in museums: engaging with difficulty between Europe and the nation

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Christopher Whitehead


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This essay explores the concept of difficulty in relation to European heritage, the routine paradigms and affective-political modes that museums employ to engage with difficulty, and how these might be changed to accommodate a ‘more-than national’ geohistorical position in the present. It discusses some of the problems of difficult heritage that have been identified across European and national settings, and how this might fit within a paradigm of ‘crisis’ invoked by the EC. This is intended to ramify ‘difficulty’ as a paradigm and to locate it in practice: understanding when, where and how difficulty emerges and for whom, when it remains submerged, and why it becomes critical to civil politics. Museum displays that creatively address unusual difficult pasts in unconventional ways may support an ethical project of learning from the past to create better grounds for civil futures.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Whitehead C

Publication type: Online Publication

Publication status: Published

Series Title: CoHERE Critical Archive

Year: 2017

Acceptance date: 20/02/2017

ISSN (electronic): 2399-1143

Publisher: European Commission