Identity, Representation and Learning in Museums

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Introduction Individuals do not learn in a void; instead they build upon the knowledge and experience that they have developed over their lives. They use their identities to shape how they learn and view the world and themselves. If the identity of the learner is not accepted and allowed to influence learning, the desired outcomes may not be accomplished. The cultivation of identities is especially important in museums and other cultural institutions and they must adapt their techniques to accomplish this. These issues of identity and learning are complex so this paper will focus on issues of representation in regard to ethnicity and gender. Furthermore, solutions to proper exhibition display and facilitation will be theorized through the lens of critical …show more content…

This process is often not simple or straight forward due to not only the nature of instruction and their environments, but also the nature of human identity. Identities are not stagnant or absolute, but hybrid and often open to influences from society around them (Pieterse, 1997). This makes them particularly susceptible to influence and abuse. All learners bring these complex and hybrid identities to the table whenever they are engaged in learning, whether this be in the formal learning environment of a school, or in an informal learning environment such as a museum. These identities effect peoples’ ability to connect to the material, especially if they are not represented. This institutional lack of representation is often based on a history of oppression to various groups (Rahm). The groups most often systematically subjugated often meet on lines of classism and wealth, ethnicity and race, and gender (Thompson). As these identities and histories are multiform and complex, this paper will focus on two main areas: ethnicity and race, and

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