“Deterritorializing the Canadian Museum for Human Rights”

Adam Muller


 This article explains the value of assemblage theory to making sense of a museum like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), which has struggled with the formidable challenge of comparatively representing human rights in controversial cultural and historical contexts. I argue that “assemblage thinking” permits us to appreciate more richly the way in which the expressive power of the CMHR arises from the dynamic interaction/intersection of overlapping clusters of objects, spaces, ideologies, memories, feelings, structures, histories, and experiences.  Understood as “assemblages,” these clusters in important (but not all) ways lie beyond the scope of formal agency such as that exercised by curators and museum administrators. Accordingly, we must understand museums generally, and the CMHR particularly, as fundamentally unable guarantee the integrity and perdurability of their/its own structures and meanings, and recognize these meanings (and a museum’s identity) as irreducibly open-ended and provisional.



Canadian Museum for Human Rights; assemblage; deterritorialization; curation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v18i2.2686

Copyright (c) 2020 Adam Muller

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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