A mosaic is the only image which can do justice to museums in the Caribbean. They are as diverse and plentiful as the many communities which form the cores of their organizations and the hearts of their missions. These profoundly social museums adopt participatory practices and embark on community engagement processes in order to embed themselves firmly in contemporary Caribbean societies.
This dissertation presents a mosaic of 195 Caribbean museums and the results of a unique research project based on a mixed methods approach. It begins with a macro view of Caribbean museums and their participatory practices. This part of the study consisted of a regional museum survey in which the museum visit was approached as an event, leading to the creation of an extensive database of Caribbean museums and their participatory practices. The dissertation continues by zooming in to a micro level to explore the dynamics of community engagement processes in two case studies. The Kalinago Barana Autê in Dominica shows the ongoing process of an indigenous grassroots initiative that became a governmentally owned but locally managed museum. The Bengal to Barbados exhibition in Barbados reveals the complex dynamics of the beginnings of a co-curation project between a heterogeneous migrant community and a national museum.
By giving voice to grassroots museums, this dissertation shifts the museological discussion away from the usual suspects to consider topics such as the ephemeral museum. By combining a regional museum survey with case studies, it provides both overarching and close-up views of this mosaic. From ecomuseums and object donations, to multi-vocality and participatory styles, and the need for negotiation and representativity, the study reveals a multitude of facets of the social museum in the Caribbean.
This book is a unique resource for museologists around the world, especially those interested in community engagement. It is particularly valuable for those working in, with, or on museums in the Caribbean.
Also see the other publications from the NEXUS 1492 Research Project
Research Questions and Objectives
2. Theoretical Framework
Defining the Museum
3. Methodological Framework
Regional Museum Survey
4. Caribbean Participatory Practices
Museum Foundation & Organization
Museum Collections & Exhibitions
5. Case Study: Kalinago Barana Autê, Dominica
Brief History of the Kalinago in Dominica
The Kalinago Barana Autê
Fieldwork: Aims and Experiences
Perceiving the Kalinago Barana Autê
6. Case Study: Bengal to Barbados Exhibition, Barbados
Brief History of the East Indian Community in Barbados
The Barbados Museum & Historical Society
The Bengal to Barbados Exhibition Project
Fieldwork: Aims and Experiences
Perceiving the Bengal to Barbados Project
7. The Social Museum
Grassroots and Governmental Museums
Community Engagement Processes
The Social Museum in the Caribbean
List of Figures
Index: Caribbean Museums Database
Questionnaire: Kalinago Barana Autê
Questionnaire Results: Kalinago Barana Autê
Questionnaire: Bengal to Barbados
Questionnaire Results: Bengal to Barbados
Summary in English
Summary in Dutch
Csilla E. Ariese-Vandemeulebroucke
Csilla E. Ariese is a museologist with an interest in decolonial practices, community engagement, maritime archaeology, and video games. Her PhD dissertation (2018, Leiden University) explored Caribbean museums and the practices and processes through which they engage with a diversity of communities. Her recent postdoctoral research at the University of Amsterdam focused on the Amsterdam Museum and how it deals with the colonial pasts of its collections and the city. She is a co-founder of the VALUE Foundation, among others organizing the RoMeincraft project and curating the Culture Arcade exhibition. Her publications span the topics of decolonizing museums, Caribbean museums, interactive pasts, and VOC shipwrecks in Australia.