Narratives of Elsewhere and In-Between: Refugee Audiences, Edu-Curators, and the Boundary Event in Art Museums
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation explores narratives that emerge from a community-museum collaboration while working with refugees in relation to Trinh T. Minh-ha’s (2011) concept of the boundary event. Within this study the boundary event is explored as moments of overlap where identity, experiences, knowledge, and processes are continuously being negotiated; by embracing or leaning into these moments, community-museum programs can develop multivocal narratives—where no single voice is heard as distinctly clear or separate. These co-created museum narratives stand in contrast to educational and engagement strategies that aim to instill knowledge and elevate community with the museum as the expert. In this dissertation 16 participant voices– of 15 refugees and one museum educator– mingle, coalesce, and complicate museum narratives. These narratives are participant-created (data presentation) as well as researcher-constructed (analysis and interpretation). Using the methodological lens of narrative inquiry and decolonization I investigated data collected from over a two-year period (summer 2013-summer 2015) including: content and wall labels collected from two exhibitions, one marks the beginning of the study in 2013 and the second in 2015 concludes the study; gallery activities collected over the course of the two-year study; and educator field notes from the 28 individual sessions. Ultimately, I argue that multivocal narratives, and embracing moments defined as the boundary event, complicate traditional hierarchy and expected stories of refugees and new migrants illustrating how difference can positively disrupt linear, static, and authoritative institutional narratives.
Degree ProgramGraduate College