A mosaic is the only image which can do justice to museums in the Caribbean. They are as diverse and plentiful as the many communities which form the cores of their organizations and the hearts of their missions. These profoundly social museums adopt participatory practices and embark on community engagement processes in order to embed themselves firmly in contemporary Caribbean societies. This dissertation presents a mosaic of 195 Caribbean museums and the results of a unique research project based on a mixed methods approach. It begins with a macro view of Caribbean museums and their participatory practices. This part of the study consisted of a regional museum survey in which the museum visit was approached as an event, leading to the creation of an extensive database of Caribbean museums and their participatory practices. The dissertation continues by zooming in to a micro level to explore the dynamics of community engagement processes in two case studies. The Kalinago Barana Autê in Dominica shows the ongoing process of an indigenous grassroots initiative that became a governmentally owned but locally managed museum. The Bengal to Barbados exhibition in Barbados reveals the complex dynamics of the beginnings of a co-curation project between a heterogeneous migrant community and a national museum. By giving voice to grassroots museums, this dissertation shifts the museological discussion away from the usual suspects to consider topics such as the ephemeral museum. By combining a regional museum survey with case studies, it provides both overarching and close-up views of this mosaic. From ecomuseums and object donations, to multi-vocality and participatory styles, and the need for negotiation and representativity, the study reveals a multitude of facets of the social museum in the Caribbean. This book is a unique resource for museologists around the world, especially those interested in community engagement. It is particularly valuable for those working in, with, or on museums in the Caribbean.
1. Introduction Museum History Previous Research Research Questions and Objectives Outline 2. Theoretical Framework New Museology Defining the Museum Community Engagement 3. Methodological Framework Research Approach Regional Museum Survey Case Studies Research Ethos 4. Caribbean Participatory Practices Museum Foundation & Organization Museum Collections & Exhibitions Museum Visitation Summary 5. Case Study: Kalinago Barana Autê, Dominica Brief History of the Kalinago in Dominica The Kalinago Barana Autê Fieldwork: Aims and Experiences Perceiving the Kalinago Barana Autê Summary 6. Case Study: Bengal to Barbados Exhibition, Barbados Brief History of the East Indian Community in Barbados The Barbados Museum & Historical Society The Bengal to Barbados Exhibition Project Fieldwork: Aims and Experiences Perceiving the Bengal to Barbados Project Summary 7. The Social Museum Grassroots and Governmental Museums Participatory Practices Community Engagement Processes Summary 8. Conclusions The Social Museum in the Caribbean Recommendations Acknowledgements References List of Figures Appendix Index: Caribbean Museums Database Questionnaire: Kalinago Barana Autê Questionnaire Results: Kalinago Barana Autê Questionnaire: Bengal to Barbados Questionnaire Results: Bengal to Barbados
Csilla E. Ariese-Vandemeulebroucke completed her PhD as part of the ERC-Synergy project NEXUS1492 at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. Her dissertation explores Caribbean museums and the practices and processes through which they engage with a diversity of communities. She is continuing as a researcher within the same project and faculty, now working to catalogue Caribbean collections in European museums.
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