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neighbourhoods, and document various approaches to questions of representation and participation. A central subject is the construction of iden- tities. The conception of museums as a site of identity politics oscillates in the contemporary discourse between the image of the factory or agency on the one hand, and the forum, arena, laboratory or contact zone on the other.2 The first image emphasises the meaning of the museum as an instrument of hegemonic domination and conveys a more mechanistic, unidirectional and dirigiste conception of the associated interpretive

in two ways: to reaffirm the role of the state as a supraethnic (‘cultural’ in local political parlance) organiser and regulator; and as a demonstration of its power to recontextualise its pre-eminence over ethnicity. Although the reactions to this event varied, because some people saw this male statue ostentatiously de- monstrating his virility as the re-emergence of magical rites from a bygone era, intellectuals seized the occasion to reignite nationalist fervour for the return of cultural objects that had been carried off during the colonial era. The

overall processes have not been so easy for many reasons, but probably the most important is that the museum is a national institution and there are a lot of issues related to national politics. The museum was created by the Swedish government almost 20 years ago, and it has been open to the public for 11 years. The collections date back mostly to the beginning of the twentieth century and they were initially part of the city museum, later incorporated into the Ethnographic museum, and became a national asset in 1996. In founding the new Museum of World Culture

partly what endows them their capacity to act as catalysts for creative thought, but it also imbues them the power to arouse intense passions over their care, display and interpretation. Little surprise, that this intrinsic and unavoidable field of potential tensions often discloses a museum’s own political culture and values and provides telling indications of its conserva- tivism or critical and creative predisposition that can majorly affect its prestige, vitality, re- levance and the love or other sentiments its public bestows it. Nelson Abiti’s accounts of the

potentials and limitations in a setting in which a ‘global player’ of the art market runs a production site in alliance with activists against gentrification in the same neighbourhood. Here, the art institution virtually hits the streets, intervenes in the space of the city as a political player, and in the process, becomes almost invisible itself. However it then re-appropriates that which occurs there in a second step, by incorporating it into its exhibition operations, in which the stakeholders from the streets then disappear from the realm of representation. The

the truth,2 or, in the words of Susan Sontag, a “species of alchemy”,3 representing unmediated and unbiased reality. However, this is not exactly the case for either of them. Museums may hold au- thentic pieces of the past, but these are organised, arranged, and set in place as a re- sult of a complex network of personal, social, political and economic circumstances and decisions. Photography is not much different. Just as museum professionals and academics make complex choices on what to include and exclude from an exhibi- tion, photographers make similar

visiting experience, that is, to have experiences that, because shared, could lead to political engagement, or are visitors being asked to look for or expect private responses that do not flow easily into political responses. Contemporary writers in the field insist that affect is a social experience, that feeling through the body makes us alive to other bodies, that affect is a drive that leads to the social.1 Roland Barthes’ anguished analysis of the photograph of his mother as a five year old, however, argues the opposite to this vital question.2 In Camera

Way of Seeing. In: Karp, Ivan/Lavine, Ste- ven D. (Hg.), Exhibiting Cultures. The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Washington/London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 25-32. Ames, Michael M. (1992): Cannibal Tours and Glass Boxes. The Anthropology of Museums. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Anderson, Benedict (1996): Die Erfindung der Nation. Zur Karriere eines folgenreichen Konzepts. Frankfurt am Main: Campus. Anderson, Gail (Hg.) (2004): Reinventing the Museum. Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift. Walnut

museum participants has been one of ‘empowerment-lite’.6 Co-creation or co-curation is thus often unmasked as a shallow political gesture. What we find are too often tokenistic consultations without authentic decision-making power, operating through relationships that disempower and control people. Meanwhile, the rhetoric of ‘service’, continues to place the subject in the role of ‘supplicant’, ‘beneficiary’ or ‘learner’ and the provider (the museum and its staff) in the role of ‘teacher/carer’, perpetrating a ‘deficit’ model which assumes that people (‘learners

private space”.1 Bourriaud links these contemporary art practices – which he describes as marked by a relational aesthetic – with the collaborative processes enabled by the internet, and the need for a physical, alive and intersubjective relation triggered by the virtual world and the detached mode of interaction that we all inhabit.2 These artists and their art create open-ended environments in which people come together to participate in a shared activity, producing different encounters. In spite of Bishop’s qualms over the real political signif- icance of this