We use the term ‘borders’ deliberately to bring together a number of themes relevant to contemporary museology and cultural anthropology, as well as intersections and collaborations between forms of practice that are fragmentary to apparent disciplinary frames. The first is the way in which museums—in the context of new ways of thinking about the social and political roles of collections and display—are negotiating the borders of public and private spheres, thinking beyond supposed divides between art and science and fostering relevant social and cultural values. We will be interrogating the idea of borders and their application to professionalism, experiential and cultural knowledge systems including learned knowledge, and modalities of collaboration between local custodians and institutional stewards of material cultural and intellectual capital.
In exploring distinct philosophies and practices of custodianship and of collaboration between community members, museologists and other anthropologists and museum agents, we are also interested in addressing and thinking with collections for people without papers, representation, or agency where the communities are fluid, and cross both national and intellectual borders. We use as specific examples migrants and refugees, and ask how museums have been taking and might further take up the particular challenges of cultural heritage, mobility, alienation and identity raised by perspectives anchored in these situations. How do museums and anthropologists manage the multiple narratives of flight and resettlement, including the dissenting narratives among those who travel and between those who migrate and those who stay behind? How might these situations favor the emergence of communities of engagement that may coalesce as collaborators in accounts of shadow passages and mobility? What are the pragmatic and metaphoric potentials of the notions of the border, migration, unsettlement, fluidity and refuge to contribute towards the consolidation of post-disciplinary museum precepts and practices?