How are national identities created and maintained? What role does culture play, and how do museums contribute to national identities? These are questions that Wellesley Professor Peggy Levitt will address in her talk:
“The Bog and The Beast: Museums, the Nation, and the World”
Thursday, March 1
Intercultural Center- Second Floor Multipurpose Room
As Prof. Levitt has written:
“During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama told an adoring crowd of more than 250,000 gathered in Berlin’s Tiergarten that he was speaking to them as a citizen of the United States and as a citizen of the world.
“The President’s globalism, however, stands in sharp contrast to the fierce nationalism and anti-immigrant fever plaguing Europe and the United States. What do we make of these two seemingly irreconcilable views?
“Museums might seem like unlikely places to look for answers. But ever since August 1793, when the leaders of the new French Republic opened the doors of the Louvre to the public to celebrate Louis XVI’s demise, museums have strongly influenced how people imagine the nations where they live. To create a unified “team” out of millions of people who would never meet, museums showcased the knowledge and customs their citizens shared.
“But in today’s global world, have museums taken on the challenge of creating the global citizens of the future too? Where do they fall in the battle between multilingual globalism and parochial nationalism? Why do particular cities create regionally or internationally-focused institutions while others create museums that look barely past their front doors?