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The "Moving" Image

Empathy and Projection in the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

Silke Arnold-de Simine

The moving image has become ubiquitous in museums that deal with traumatic, violent, and difficult histories and could be described as "memorial museums." This article investigates exhibition practices in the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, in which large-scale video installations provide evocative recreations of traumatic experiences that are designed to unsettle and disturb visitors, providing them with a visceral and vicarious experience that calls for witnessing and "empathic unsettlement." It also queries the assumption that the capacity for empathy forms the basis for responsible moral agency, and whether museums aiming to encourage social responsibility should rely on such technologies.