Museums, National, Postnational and Transcultural Identities

Sharon Macdonald


Many social theorists have suggested that we are currently living in a period in which the identities of the past are becoming increasingly irrelevant and in which new identities, and new identity formations, are being created. The major identity colossus forged in the nineteenth century, and subsequently spread over much of the globe - nation-state identity - has been the subject of particular debate; and theorists have attempted to identify alternative, post-national (in the sense of post-nation-statist) identity constructions. The proliferation of museums in the nineteenth century was undoubtedly closely bound up with the formation and solidification of nation-states in, and subsequently beyond, Western Europe. A crucial question for museums today concerns their role in a world in which nationstatist identities are being challenged. Are they too inextricably entangled in ‘old’ forms of identity to be able to express ‘new’ ones?

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Copyright (c) 2015 Sharon Macdonald

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360