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Title: Learning to remember slavery at the museum
Authors: Spalding, Nikki
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Taking as its point of departure Understanding Slavery, a national, multi-museum education project that includes learning resources, lesson-plans and a web-site, this thesis investigates the performance of recent shifts in historical consciousness in the context of museum fieldtrip sessions developed in England in tandem with the 2007 bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. It argues that, as important cultural memory products, governmentsponsored education initiatives require the same academic attention that history textbooks receive. This research combines macro- and micro-analyses in order to examine the role of education during politically charged periods of heightened commemorative activity, demonstrating how the production and consumption of educational media in museums influence – and are influenced by – political, historical and cultural discourses, changes in the curriculum, and shifts within historical consciousness. Using analysis of qualitative data generated through observations of nine school field-trips, discussions with museum education staff and pre- and post-visit surveys with pupils and teachers (where possible), this thesis examines the experiences of school pupils (aged eleven to fourteen) learning about the history of slavery in the years immediately following the bicentenary. In addition to fieldwork undertaken at museums in Hull, Liverpool and London, this thesis also includes fieldwork carried out at a museum in Ontario, where school groups learn about the Underground Railroad and early Black settlement in Canada. This comparative case study offers an opportunity to critically consider the dominant trends in pedagogy and practice that have evolved in England in recent years as a result of multisite initiatives, collaborative resource development, professional workshops and teacher training programmes. This reflective assessment is achieved through an examination of key themes emerging from the data, including issues surrounding the ‘universal’ lessons of slavery history for citizenship education, the pedagogy and ethics of object handling and the use of drama, role-play and empathy.
Description: Phd Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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