Museums, minorities and recognition: memories of North Africa in contemporary France

Mary Stevens


This article uses a case study from the Musée dauphinois in Grenoble, France to explore the way museums are called upon to act as ‘authorities of recognition’ for minority communities. Studies of public recognition have often focused on political and legal measures, such as reparations, rather than considering questions of public representation. In satisfying demands for recognition on the part of minority groups do museums contribute to social cohesion or do they generate competition between groups that may heighten existing tensions? This question is particularly pertinent in the French case where the philosophy of republican universalism traditionally discourages acknowledgement of group identities. Drawing on work on recognition by Feuchtwang and Dufoix this article argues that a more complex model of recognition needs to be elaborated for museums in order to take into account the multiple actors involved in the development and reception of exhibitions.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Mary Stevens

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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