Animals on Display: The Zoocurriculum of Museum Exhibits

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Animals on Display: The Zoocurriculum of Museum Exhibits

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Animals on Display: The Zoocurriculum of Museum Exhibits
Author(s) Pedersen, Helena
Date 2010
English abstract
Museums have been viewed as valuable education resources as well as sites of reproduction of colonialist narratives about the “other.” This article, based on ethnographic field studies of school visits to museums and drawing on postcolonial critique in visual culture and critical education theory, analyzes two different museum exhibitions and the human-nonhuman animal relations they produce. Different agendas seem to be at work at the two museums; one inviting a conventional zoological gaze of “exoticism,” and the other interrogating issues of power inherent in human-nonhuman animal relations. I argue that the pedagogical messages produced by particularly the natural history museum are part of a generic zoocurriculum; a species-coded hidden curriculum structuring human-animal boundary work by delimiting and separating human and animal subject positions. However, student responses to both museum displays indicate that their own interpretive framework largely operated in the opposite direction as the stuffed and dismembered animals seemed to invoke reflections on mortality that facilitated students’ self-identification with them.
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Publisher Institute for Critical Educational Studies
Host/Issue Critical Education;8
Volume 1
ISSN 1920-4125
Pages 17
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Education
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