Staging Shared Action: The Museum as Historical Mobilizer

By Steven G. Smith.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Drawing on programming experience with the unusual International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Mississippi, USA, I argue that museums can do more than retrieve and reinterpret past expressions of human intent for the sake of general education: they can stage purposeful encounters between visitors and exhibits that reinvigorate the practical relationships of living agents with their forerunners, as for example by bringing Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders and groups into contact with exhibits representing Islamic Moorish Spain to reflect explicitly on conditions of interreligious collaboration over time. Criticizing a recent turn to experience-centered historical inquiry and museum exhibits, I base my museum proposals on a conception of history as shared compound action, the interpretation of which is unpredictably affected by encounters with facts and artifacts.

Keywords: History, Action, International Museum of Muslim Cultures, Islamic Moorish Spain

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.27-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 599.236KB).

Dr. Steven G. Smith

Professor, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi, USA

I have been a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Millsaps College since 1985 and am the author of The Argument to the Other on Karl Barth and Emmanuel Levinas (1983), The Concept of the Spiritual (1988), Gender Thinking (1992), Worth Doing (2004), and Appeal and Attitude (2005), as well as journal articles on topics in philosophy of religion, theology, ethics, philosophical anthropology, and aesthetics. My current work is on the nature and implications of historical meaningfulness. I have served as consulting scholar for the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Jackson, Mississippi.

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