THE FOURTH ISSUE OF Newsletter and Feature Articles on the Federation of International Human Rights Museums- Asia Pacific Official Website Released
Theme: Co-Creation: How to Engage Communities in Human Rights Discussions
The new museum definition was approved at the 2022 ICOM Prague and reflects the values of museums in the new era that are recognized by museum workers around the world. The new museum definition states that museums “operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing,” highlighting that museums should not exclusively cater to expert and mainstream perspectives, but also engage communities to fulfill the social responsibilities of museums. Museums work with communities through co-creation to produce knowledge and learn to build connections throughout the process. Only then will museums be able to be truly inclusive and uphold equal rights. For this series, we will be releasing five feature articles on discussions about how museums or NGOs can engage communities in human rights discussions through co-creation, hoping to attract more attention to pressing human rights issues through different practices.
In the first feature article titled “Kills Are Coated: Art under Conflict in Thailand’s Deep South,” independent author – Nathaporn Songsawas – raises awareness for human rights violations and conflicts in Thailand’s deep south and introduces the art exhibition “Silence” and art project “Kills Are Coated,” organized by Patani Artspace in Thailand. By inspiring empathy and resonating with audiences through artists’ works, Patani Artspace hopes to raise awareness for human rights issues through exhibitions.
The second article in the series, titled “Museums Exhibit the Power of Actions in the Face of Challenging Topics: Perspectives at ICOM Prague,” author Mu-Jung Tsai, a doctoral student at Humboldt University, provides a more comprehensive view of how museums have changed and responded to difficult topics in recent years. Firstly, Tsai emphasizes that museums have been spotlighting human rights issues in recent years and how museums, as a platform, can potentially take more action in the face of changing landscapes, e.g., serving as shelters in the Russia-Ukraine War. Tsai further mentions the challenges and difficulties presented to museums throughout the years due to the power dynamics of various politics. Lastly, Tsai ideates on how museums can generate discourse and create more diverse connections and inclusivity when it comes to contemporary social issues such as difficult histories, diverse cultures, gender equality, etc.
In the third article – “Explore the Possibility of Joint Actions by Museums and NGOs: Documenting the 2022 FIHRM-AP Climate Change Co-learning Program” – author Chia-Chuan Chuang delivers a record of co-learning programs spotlighting climate change that were carried out this year by FIHRM-AP. Chuang documents the five-month process where museums and NGOs connect, communicate, discuss, and take action together to provide a reference for how workers from different domains can exchange and co-learn.
In the latest feature article – “Museums Under Pressure: The Tug of War Between Governments and Communities for Autonomy Highlights of the 2022 FIHRM Conference” – author Hoi-Ching Loi presents highlights from FIHRM’s annual conference in Oslo this year and spotlights the internal and external pressures and challenges that museums endure under the contemporary context. Loi then introduces the waterfront rebuilding project, which National Museums Liverpool and the University of Leicester collaborated on, to further explore the challenges faced by Norwegian minorities and museum development under authoritarianism to explain that human rights museums play important roles in modern society when it comes to promoting human rights issues.
Director of the Suiheisha History Museum, Tadayuki Komai, was invited to author the other feature article, titled “Share the Founding Philosophy of Suiheisha for A Loving World.” By detailing the history of the Suiheisha History Museum, Komai provides a clear picture of how human rights issues unfolded in Japan. Komai describes why they founded the Suihesha History Museum: to eliminate discrimination against Burakumin, a minority, and the museum’s founding. Now, the Suiheisha History Museum has taken on the responsibility of fulfilling human dignity and leverages the museum’s power in the hopes of co-creating an equal and inclusive society.