Museums, ethics and truth: why museums' collecting policies must face up to the problem of testimony

Tonner, P. (2016) Museums, ethics and truth: why museums' collecting policies must face up to the problem of testimony. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 79, pp. 159-177. (doi:10.1017/S1358246116000126)

Tonner, P. (2016) Museums, ethics and truth: why museums' collecting policies must face up to the problem of testimony. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 79, pp. 159-177. (doi:10.1017/S1358246116000126)

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Abstract

This paper argues that any museum's collecting policy must face up to the problem of vulnerability. Taking as a starting point an item in the collections of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I argue that the basic responsibility of museums to collect ‘things’, and to communicate information about them in a truthful way brings their collecting practice into the epistemological domain of testimony and into the normative domain of ethics. Museums are public spaces of memory, testimony, representation and interpretation that at once enable humanity to hold to account those who transgress while at the same time holding to account those who witness these transgressions. By virtue of this, museums can be considered spaces of ethics wherein testimonial and hermeneutic injustice can be confronted and challenged.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Tonner, Dr Philip
Authors: Tonner, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Pedagogy Policy and Practice
Journal Name:Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1358-2461
ISSN (Online):1755-3555
Published Online:14 October 2016

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