How can disabled people be empowered to influence decision-making in museums?
2013-09-19T15:18:51Z (GMT) by
At the centre of this piece of research is a case study that focused on a group of young disabled people who worked with The Holocaust Centre, Nottinghamshire, on a longitudinal ethnographic piece of action research. The aim behind this study was to support the young people to work with the Centre to challenge exclusionary practices. Opened in 1995, the Centre explores the history of the Holocaust and its implications for contemporary society. However, significant physical, sensory and intellectual barriers were built into the Centre that prevented disabled people from fully engaging with its site, facilities and programmes. For a place that discusses issues of prejudice and exclusion, its core values were clearly at odds with its daily operational practices. This study applied a research paradigm from the field of disability studies, which had been developed in response to the historic exclusion of disabled people from the research process, to the museum context. Emancipatory disability research principles focus on issues of reciprocity, empowerment and gain, and are intended to ensure that disabled people are in control of the research agenda. This study thus investigated whether by following these principles it was possible to support the young disabled people to empower themselves through research, and whether they directly benefited through their involvement in it. The study also explored whether this approach enabled them to gain access to decision-making by working in partnership with the Centre to challenge exclusionary practices. Addressing a significant gap in literature, this thesis speaks to the wider sector, as it explores how museums can work in more equitable ways with communities to address inequalities of power, whilst focusing on the issues that contribute to individuals’ and communities’ marginalisation. It therefore examines how issues of oppression and exclusion can be addressed through strategies that promote their empowerment.