A Global Citizenship Framework in Museums: Global Issues, Local Concerns and Diplomatic Potentials

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Erdogan O'Connor, Simge
museums, global citizenship, cultural diplomacy, social responsibility, global issues
This dissertation investigates the global citizenship engagements of museums to offer insights into changing notions of identity, belonging, and citizenship in museums and to explore their social, global, and diplomatic implications for contemporary museum practice. Through in-depth examinations of three institutions located in different parts of the Western world, namely, the Immigration Museum (Melbourne, Australia), Anne Frank House (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), and the Aga Khan Museum (Toronto, Canada), it asks how global citizenship enters the museum, how it is supported and resisted, and how it may be used by museums to position themselves as social and global institutions. The study argues that global citizenship enters the museum through the gate of social and global responsibility and is primarily resisted by colonial and national legacies. The case study analyses reveal that the global engagements of museums are driven by an overriding desire to repurpose institutions as socially and globally responsible and to decolonize and diversify their spaces. At the same time, the colonial and national legacies of museums that drive social and global initiatives impose major limitations on these engagements, restricting what museums can achieve. Despite these important limitations, the dissertation observes an increasing move in museums toward a global citizenship framework, which encompasses local-global scale identities and captures new perceptions of belonging to and engaging with a growing global community. The dissertation also observes an important diplomatic potential in the social and global work of museums, and by extension their global citizenship engagements, and identifies museums as key diplomatic actors within their localities as well as in the broader global environment insofar as they foster people-to-people relationships and network local and global audiences around contemporary issues. The conclusion to this study lays the groundwork for future research on global citizenship, issues of coloniality, identity, and belonging, and further examinations of museums as social, global, and diplomatic institutions. Together, the research sheds light on the potential of museums to serve as platforms of global citizenship where new local-global connections are built, local-global scale identities and experiences are manifested, and local groups, organizations, schools, artists, and global audiences network around contemporary challenges.
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