Published in :
Rodrigo, Javier (2007) Dialogical Practices: intersections between critical pedagogy and critical museology. Book-DVD. Es Baluard: Palma de Mallorca.
1 Museums, politics and cultures. Contradictions, expansions and contaminations.
One way of understanding museum practices is to analyse them as cultural systems within a field of tensions. This perspective views museum work as a constant negotiation within the enclaves of the different cultures and subjectivities which museums inhabit, visit or reject. In this sense, museums are subject to a series of forces and elements that make them expand and contract in their dynamics, behaviours and work dimensions. Analysing museums as institutional systems helps us understand them as territories in expansion and conflict. Museums demarcate spaces, identify them, map them in typologies and features and, above all, construct them so that others may experience their geography, features, boundaries and centres.
In other words, museums construct territories so that others may experience their boundaries and borders as temporary citizens within their domains. These territories are unstable and subject to changes, social dynamics, the market and different policies, which is why they are conditioned by their boundaries’ expansions and contractions, the unforeseen modifications of their geographical features. And it is precisely this dynamic territorial quality that makes them “contradictorily” hopeful frameworks: they are always changing and differentiating themselves within the context. Here, contradictory is meant constructively, not because of their tendency to construct and close hegemonic discourse, but rather, thanks to the emergence of a hope of subversion though the performative tensions that emerge within their borders: the tensions between internal practices and external contextual demands. These tensions between the closings and openings of the systems are precisely where museum politics and cultures are established and where museums expand and contract.