Museums, Decolonization and Indigenous Artists as First Cultural Responders at the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Stephanie B Anderson


The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is part of a global movement of human-rights–driven museums that commemorate atrocity-related events through exhibitions aimed to communicate a national social consciousness. However, museums in Canada are increasingly understood to contribute to the perpetuation of settler colonial memory regimes as dominant narratives of national identity. Through the analysis of theexhibit ‘Aborigina lWomen and the Right to Safety and Justice’, this article explores how museums in represent difficult knowledge and act as sites of decolonization, while suggesting how shared authority and nuanced Indigenous art forms might play a role in both. It posits that if museums in settler colonial societies are to evolve beyond the pretext of detached host, they must not only acknowledge past atrocities and injustices against Indigenous peoples, but also consistently examine the colonial logics and inventions that permeate colonizing and decolonizing exhibitions.


Museum Studies; Decolonization; Difficult Knowledge; National Identity; Public History; Human Rights; Art Form

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Copyright (c) 2019 Stephanie B Anderson

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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