With Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the new coalition government’s resulting reorientation of German foreign and security policy—an epochal shift that jettisoned 30, even 50 years of policy the world immediately changed. The consequences and spillover effects of this paradigm shift or Zeitenwende will take years to become truly apparent and will rightfully seize the attention of academics, pundits, and policy analysts. Nevertheless, we should also not neglect other events from the recent past, namely, the most important election in the world in 2021. The September election for the German Bundestag was the most eventful, surprising, and momentous in that country for almost two decades, with an outcome that has already greatly affected Germany, Europe, and the world. It was also a novel election and outcome in several ways: it was the first election since 1953 without an incumbent chancellor running for re-election, and it resulted in the first three-party coalition government in over half a century.
A Zeitenwende Indeed
This new issue is an example of our journal’s ongoing commitment to interdisciplinary dialogue, cutting-edge approaches, and the rethinking of mobilities. It also features authors at various stages of the academic career, from promising graduate students pursuing new venues to senior international scholars. We are extremely proud of the range of topics covered and the energy that flows through the issue. It starts with a theoretical inquiry into a concept that is central and critical to our lives and to our field: immobility. Noel Salazar revisits some of his previous work and invites us to rethink the “relational and experiential qualities” of what he rightly labels an “ambiguous concept.” Salazar masterfully builds upon language and our concrete and practical experiences of immobility, from mundane life to the new normal of the global COVID-19 crisis, to call on us to pay attention and give intention to the concept of immobility. His article reads as an invigorating manifest for studying and researching immobility as a meaningful, dynamic, and processual spectrum rather than as residual or as an antithesis of mobility.
Using Popular Culture to Trace and Assess Political Change
The German federal election in September 2021 marked a significant transformation for German politics. As Chancellor Angela Merkel decided not to run again, the election spelled the end of her 16-year tenure; it also signaled a major shift in the German party system. The right-populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) entered the Bundestag again after their first entry in 2017, implying—for the first time since 1949—the establishment and sustained parliamentary presence of a party on the national level to the (far-)right of the Christian Democrats. The challenges facing the new parliament and government after the election are paramount. The climate crisis looms as large as ever. With the exception of the AfD, all German parties (and a distinct majority of voters) see this as the most pressing issue to tackle. However, the scope of action will be limited as the extensive state debt accumulated through covid-19 relief measures exerts pressure on the specific German model of social market economy. Finally, the international environment has seen drastic changes in the last years: While the election of u.s. President Joe Biden as successor to Donald Trump implies a return to normal for transatlantic relations, the uk exit from the eu shifts the balance between the remaining member states. After the Euro, refugee, and pandemic crises, European solidarity is strained, complicating Germany's role as the eu's “reluctant hegemon” or “gentle giant.” This reluctance or restraint connotes far more than a strategic policy choice: it is deeply rooted in the German history of the twentieth century that witnessed the cruelty and atrocities of the Nazi regime.
Collaborative Knowledge Construction at a Regional Art Gallery in New Zealand
Esther Helen McNaughton
How can regional art galleries support the development of cultural understanding in their communities? The 2019 collaborative project Aratoi: Our Journeys to Aotearoa between Nelson, New Zealand's Suter Art Gallery te Aratoi o Whakatū and eight local schools explored this question. Students’ artworks were hung alongside the gallery's collection, enriching dialogue within the exhibition through the provision of voices otherwise absent. Building on the gallery's collection and history, this project demonstrated the evolution of the gallery's colonial roots into a broader discussion of culture. Participating teachers believed the project allowed public recognition of students’ abilities and ideas; expression of a school community's special character; cross-curricular learning; cohesive whole school learning; bicultural learning; and pre-service teacher development. It also enabled meaningful exploration of Aotearoa New Zealand's histories.
Secret and Sacred Objects at the Weltmuseum Wien
Today many ethnographic museums are questioning the hierarchical power relationships implicit in the act of representing the cultures of others. In this article I analyze the way that the curator of the South American section of the Weltmuseum Wien chose to deal with the exhibition of sacred and secret objects, that is, those things that only specific categories of individuals are allowed to view. If we exclude storage as a possible solution, what is the proper way to treat artifacts such as these? How should the expectations of an audience attracted to the idea of the exotic, and perhaps forbidden, be satisfied? How can this challenge be transformed into an opportunity to reflect about what we have, or have not, the right to do?
Inge Zwart, Susanne Boersma, Franziska Mucha, and Cassandra Kist
Care-ful Participation in Museums: A Review of The Museum as a Space of Social Care by Nuala Morse
Larissa Juip, Geuntae Park, Jill Haley, Joanna Cobley, Kristin D. Hussey, Eric J. Dorfman, and Ken Arnold
Yunci Cai. Staging Indigenous Heritage: Instrumentalisation, Brokerage, and Representation in Malaysia. New York: Routledge, 2021
Sang-hoon Jang. A Representation of Nationhood in the Museum. New York: Routledge, 2020
Claire Dumortier and Patrick Habets (eds.). Porcelain Pugs: A Passion, The T. & T. Collection. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020
Stephen B. Heard. Charles Darwin's Barnacle and David Bowie's Spider: How Scientific Names Celebrate Adventurers, Heroes, and Even a Few Scoundrels. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020
Anna Woodham, Alison Hess, and Rhianedd Smith (eds.). Exploring Emotion, Care, and Enthusiasm in “Unloved” Museum Collections. Leeds: Arc Humanities Press, 2020
Michael John Gorman. Idea Colliders: The Future of Science Museums. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2020
Peter Bjerregaard (ed.). Exhibitions as Research: Experimental Methods in Museums. New York: Routledge, 2020
This article is a re-edited version of the opening prelude to the author's The Museum's Borders: On the Challenge of Knowing and Remembering Well (Routledge, 2021). Based on reportage concerning the Windrush scandal, this article makes the case for the museum to be understood as an autonomous institution critical to knowledge-based democracies. The scandal, exposed in 2018, was the result of the British Government's “hostile environment,” a brutal approach to immigration that ensnared historic migrants to Britain from the Caribbean. Resulting in state violence against Black British citizens, it revealed the degree to which Britain remained mired in institutional racism. Museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions played a critical role in recovering and asserting the history and legitimacy of these people.
Museum Representation in Black Panther
In recent decades, the museum world has devoted time and resources to studying the opinions and actions of their visitors; however, it is much more difficult to access perspectives of a more general public that includes non-visitors. This article situates popular visual culture as a form of engagement between museum professionals and the public. By analyzing the museum scene of the Marvel Studios movie Black Panther, as well as responses to it, and then contextualizing these within the history and current events of the museum field, I identify ways in which popularly received visual culture can spur change in other cultural industries—creating productive critiques that can evolve into impactful dialogue and action to model responsive research and more inclusive museum practices.
After a tumultuous year around the globe in the wake of COVID 19, the cultural sector, including museums, galleries, and other institutions, as well as universities, have emerged in 2021 scathed but still functioning. As an academic journal engaged with professional museum practice, it is to be expected that Museum Worlds 9 will reflect the unprecedented impact of the pandemic. If the 2020 issue was difficult to collate and produce, this year's issue was doubly so: academics and students are busy, stressed, and preoccupied with teaching online, while museum professionals are overworked, or out of work, or at home with their museums closed, and there are few exhibitions and public programs. Even the publishing industry seems to have been severely affected: new titles have been delayed, it is tricky to get books sent to readers due to holdups with freight, and writers, reviewers, and editors are busy, busy, busy.