When I first visited TromsĂ¸ University as guest lecturer in 1993; I immediately became acquainted with the distinctive Norwegian term â€śFormidlingâ€ť (Mediation of Knowledge). The paradox of such term is that it means different concepts in the languages I know (some Latin languages but also in English) and it is hard to find an all-fit translation for it: it must be understood in context. Sometimes as â€śmediationâ€ť; sometimes as â€śdisseminationâ€ť; others as â€śinterpretationâ€ť and even as â€śnegotiationâ€ť. One thing is plausible: it is a core concept in Scandinavian academic practices of production of social scientific knowledge. Still; it triggers scholars to explore its meaning. It is a strong theoretical stand of a certain Norwegian social anthropology. In this way the aim of my fieldwork at TromsĂ¸ Museum is to gather and analyze examples of contextualization and to reflect upon how representation is affected by it. Moreover; this can become a reflection about how inclusive or exclusive for different audiences; such â€śmusealâ€ť cultural politics may be.
For this aim; I start by analyzing failures and scores of existing projects; in order to provide a lively representation of these practices; which connect academics with civil society at large; not in general terms; but in the analysis of dynamics that researchers; social actors and specific audiences create together when they encounter and react to these representations: an inclusive and dialogical practice from one and side and a constructive; strident or simply dialectical critique on the other side.
These are important aspects because they provide the context to understand further how meaning is made beyond the commodity â€śexhibitionâ€ť; and how it is transformed or negotiated/omitted/exalted; etc. Moreover; manifold narratives are elicited through the meeting with the audience. These representations are context-of-reception dependant. A scrutiny of the modalities of these meetings; from the fieldworkâ€™s reflective practices; to the feed back sessions with social actors; from follow up exhibitions or productions of new media (books; films; catalogues; etc.) to surveys and monitoring of the exhibitions themselves; from local-national discursive debates; to transnational discursive representations; is my researchâ€™s agenda.
Comparing: National Museums; Territories; Nation-Building and Change. NaMu IV; LinkĂ¶ping University; NorrkĂ¶ping; Sweden 18-20 February 2008
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