Dr. Failler Awarded CFI Grant for CRiCS

Dr. Angela Failler has received a Joh R. Evans Leader’s Fund grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) with contributions from Research Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg to establish a new Centre for Research in Cultural Studies (CRiCS) on the UWinnipeg campus.  CRiCS will house the innovative projects of Failler (who is Canada Research Chair in Culture and Public Memory), and the work of UWinnipeg’s Cultural Studies Research Group which she currently leads.

Failler’s overall program is designed to demonstrate the ways public memory and cultural studies research can generate positive social transformation. The main feature of the centre will be a Collaborative Research and Knowledge Mobilization Lab that functions as a multipurpose hub for research creation, networking, and workshopping. This Centre will also be a hub of activity toward Failler’s work with the Thinking through the Museum research team and its projects.

For more information, please see the press release on the University of Winnipeg’s website here.

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Dr. Failler Co-Edits New Volume on 1985 Air India Bombing

Thinking through the Museum is pleased to congratulate Dr. Angela Failler on the publication of Remembering Air India: The Art of Public Mourning (University of Alberta Press), a new volume co-edited with Drs Chandrima Chakraborty and Amber Dean (McMaster University).

The volume’s synopsis reads: “On June 23, 1985, the bombing of Air India Flight 182 killed 329 people, most of them Canadians. Today this pivotal event in Canada’s history is hazily remembered, yet certain interests have shaped how the tragedy is woven into public memory, and even exploited to advance a strategic national narrative. This collection investigates the Air India bombing and its implications for current debates about racism, terrorism, and citizenship.”

Remembering Air India has already gained the attention of notable commentators including Bob Rae who has written a review of it for the Literary Review of Canada. Rae, former premier of Ontario (now lawyer and distinguished professor at the University of Toronto), authored an influential report on the Air India bombings in 2005 while serving as Advisor to the Minister of Public Safety Canada. Of Failler et al.’s volume he observes, “The book is filled with impressive arguments…and thoughtful recollections and analysis that bridges the gap between scholarship and lived experience,” adding, “Let it be the beginning of a reckoning and a reconciliation, not the end of the story.”  

Failler, who has been working on the topic for over a decade, says that the innovation of this collaborative effort lies in how it “draws together academic analysis, testimony, visual arts, and creative writing, tendering a new public record of the bombing, one that shows how important creative responses are for deepening our understanding of the event and its aftermath.”

The collection also includes contributions from Uma Parameswaran, Cassel Busse, Chandrima Chakraborty, Amber Dean, Rita Kaur Dhamoon, Teresa Hubel, Suvir Kaul, Elan Marchinko, Eisha Marjara, Bharati Mukherjee, Lata Pada, Sherene H. Razack, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Maya Seshia, Karen Sharma, Deon Venter, and Padma Viswanathan.

More information about the collection can be found on the University of Alberta Press website.

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Dr. Failler, with Dr. Heather Milne, awarded Connection Grant for Museum Queeries

Dr. Heather Milne (English) and Dr. Angela Failler (Women’s and Gender Studies) have been awarded over $22,000 to support the workshop Museum Queeries: Intersectional Interventions into Museum Cultures and Practices. This funding comes from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant and the Manitoba Research Connections Program.

The invite only workshop will be hosted at UWinnipeg this June to coincide with Winnipeg’s Pride Week and includes a site visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).

As Dr. Milne explains, “The overall goal of the workshop is to connect members of our newly formed Museum Queeries research network, and translate specific objectives into tangible strategies for engaging museums on 2S+LGBTTQ issues. We use an intersectional approach to think through ways in which gender, sexuality, race, class, ability, religion, ethnicity, and national identities are inter-implicated in museums and in museumgoers’ points of contact with museums. This workshop will be the first time our research team, which hails from across Canada, the U.S., and Australia, will come together to begin these important discussions.”

This innovative project brings together two significant fields in cultural studies. According to Dr. Milne, “to date, there has been very little research that engages with 2S+LGBTTQ issues within the field of museum studies. It is an emerging field of scholarship.”

For more information on this project, visit museumqueeries.org.

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TTTM Research Team speaks at International Conference in Poland

panelists

Panelists for the Thinking through the Museum: Difficult Knowledge in Public presentation (Warsaw, Poland; March 13, 2017)

Thinking through the Museum research team members and collaborators closed the momentus “Museums and their Publics at Sites of Conflicted History” international conference in Warsaw, Poland (March 13-15, 2017). The conference explored the role of museums in negotiating new public histories in societies in transition; of special interest was how the historical narratives constructed in museums help to shape new social relations in a dynamically changing present.

Drs. Angela Failler, Heather Igloliorte, Erica Lehrer, and Monica Patterson participated in the conference’s many roundtable and panel discussions, finishing with a panel of their own titled “Thinking through the Museum: Difficult Knowledge in Public.” This panel, which also invited collaborators Dr. Shelley Ruth Butler (McGill University), Hanna Radziejowska (Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Dom Spotkan z Historia [“House of Meetings with History”], Museum of the City of Warsaw), Magdalena Zych (Seweryn Udziela Ethnographic Museum), and Aleksandra Janus (Jagiellonian University), asked the questions:

Can museum institutions question cherished collective myths of heroism and tolerance? To what extent can they be self-critical, and how? What progressive social, political, and educational functions can such museums serve? And most interesting for our research: what roles can scholars, activists, artists, and citizens play in holding these institutions to their highest stated mandates, or even expandingthem? This includes not only their content or modes of representation, but the construction of their audiences. Who are audiences imagined (and encouraged) by museum practitioners to be, and what are these visitors allowed and expected to do? 

The presentation is available for viewing on the conference’s website here.

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Angela Failler awarded Canada Research Chair

The Government of Canada has announced a major investment in research excellence at The University of Winnipeg, with Dr. Angela Failler’s appointment as a new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Culture and Public Memory — an award valued at $500,000 over five years. Failler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Failler’s CRC research will focus on how practices of culture and public memory are used to grapple with the difficult knowledge of historical traumas and their after-effects. She is specifically interested in the potential for these practices to advance reconciliation, redress, and decolonized forms of relating.

Failler’s research pays particular attention to memorials, museums, commemorative artworks, community-based practices of remembrance, and government sponsored memory projects. She uses collaborative approaches: combining the expertise of scholars, educators, artists, and curators to develop cultural studies in public.

For more information. check out the news release on the University of Winnipeg’s website!

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Review: The Idea of a Human Rights Museum

busby coverMarjorie Schwarzer has recently published a positive review of Karen Busby, Adam Muller, and Andrew Woolford’s The Idea of a Human Rights Museum, which includes a chapter co-written by Thinking through the Museum‘s Project Director Angela Failler with the late Roger I. Simon. The review, published in Museum Management and Curatorship, can be accessed here.

In lieu of an abstract, here is an excerpt from the review:

A museum might facilitate dialogue, but can it be an appropriate place to inspire action on behalf of human rights? This book’s answer is inconclusive. Christopher Powell delineates what he sees as the hard truth: the fight for human rights is a continual struggle. He posits that CMHR’s narrative is ‘top down’, reflecting ‘the interests of the sovereign and … social elites’ who founded and funded it (p. 138). ‘Top down’ implies that abuses against humanity are aber- rant occurrences that can be transcended through enlightened institutions. Powell advocates a ‘bottom up’ approach that emphasizes a commitment to constant questioning and subversion of the larger system. Perhaps, Powell notes on page 141, an ongoing external critique of CMHR, such as the one presented in this valuable book, can allow the museum to become ‘a vehicle for the propagation of human rights, despite itself’.

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ACHS 2016: Thinking through the Museum Roundtable

ACHS Thinking through the Museum panel members.

ACHS Thinking through the Museum panel members. (L to R: Jennifer Robinson, Heather Igloliorte, Monica Patterson, Angela Failler, Erica Lehrer, Shelley Butler)

On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Thinking through the Museum research team members Angela Failler, Heather Igloliorte, Erica Lehrer, and Monica Patterson were joined by colleagues Shelley Ruth Butler and Jennifer C. Robinson for a roundtable discussion at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference in Montreal, Québec, Canada.

The discussion focused on the conference’s theme and asked the question: what might the heritage of difficult knowledge change, if productively curated? Participants discussed topics including (but not limited to): slow museology and conflict; game methodologies to address victim competition; children and difficult knowledge; counter-museums and social justice, failed politics of recognition, museum leadership and structure, and indigenous curatorial practice and settler colonialism.

While the Canadian Museum of Human Rights was a central focus, particularly in relation to the Partnership Development Grant from SSHRC, participants also drew on their broad field of engagement, including museums in Poland, South Africa, northern Canada, the United States, and Germany.

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Dr. Failler speaks on “Eat Your Arts & Vegetables” (CKUW 95.9 FM Winnipeg)

Image of Dr. Failler at CKUW

Dr. Angela Failler at CKUW (photo credit: Eat Your Arts & Vegetables)

On December 3, 2015, research team member Dr. Angela Failler spoke with radio hosts Aleem Khan and Derek Brueckner on Eat Your Arts & Vegetables. This show, which broadcasts from the University of Winnipeg’s campus radio station, CKUW 95.9 FM, presents guests of diverse backgrounds and perspectives ranging from local self taught artists to internationally renowned interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary artists. The show’s mandate offers artists, curators, art academics, cultural workers and organizations a resource to promote their work and ideas in conjunction with current local art events.

Dr. Failler spoke about her research work over the past few years on the Canadian Museum for Human rights and working through “difficult knowledge” in relation to the Thinking through the Museum project.

Listen now to part one (interview begins at 2:30):

Continuing listening here (interview ends at 3:20):

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#thinkingthrough We Were So Far Away

Members of the research team at the exhibit, Nov. 27, 2015 (photo credit: Lauren Bosc).

Members of the research team at the exhibit, Nov. 27, 2015 (photo credit: Lauren Bosc).

Members of our research team visited the travelling exhibit “We Were So Far Away” on November 27, 2015 while it was displayed in the atrium of the United Way of Winnipeg (580 Main Street, Winnipeg MB). This exhibit, which features stories and photographs from eight Inuit residential school Survivors, was on display in Winnipeg from November 18-30. For more information on the exhibit, click here.

The exhibition title expresses so much with so little: We Were So Far Away – Inuit residential school students were so far away from family, so far away from their culture, so far away from hope. While Survivors’ voices are heard through the display of archival photographs alongside highlighted memories, I found it difficult to connect to the material in the chosen space (the United Way centre lobby on Main Street in Winnipeg). Ultimately, it was the accompanying exhibition book that allowed me to engage on a deeper level with the difficult and powerful stories shared in the exhibit. – Sylvia Dreaver (Dueck)

One of the things that struck me about the archival photographs of residential schools included in We Were So Far Away is that while the names of Monseigneurs, teachers and even some of the photographers appear with the original documentation, the students were often left nameless. Namelessness is itself evidence of how the students were treated as objects of regulation rather than subjects of their own experiences at the schools. The exhibit’s juxtaposition of these photos with current day profiles of survivors works to recover their agency in the face of such violent erasure.  Angela Failler

As I read the short descriptions of photographs shared by each Survivor, I was struck by one in particular that accompanied an image of a group of residential school children. Lillian Elias noted that although she thought she was one of the children in the photo, she did not recognize herself in any of the faces. For me, this comment resonated through the rest of the exhibit as the Survivors attempted to recognize themselves in the trauma of the IRS system. Lauren Bosc

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Thinking through Inuit Art

Research team members view new Inuit art acquisitions in the WAG's art vault.

Research team members view new Inuit art acquisitions in the WAG’s art vault. (photo credit: Lauren Bosc)

On February 12, 2016, Thinking through the Museum team members participated in a workshop on Inuit art and curatorial practices at the University of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Go to Collecting and Displaying Inuit Art under the Workshops tab for more description and a photo gallery.

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