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TL 264: Developing Ethical Representations of Difficult History (PDF Download)

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TL 264: Three Building Blocks for Developing Ethical Representations of Difficult History

Difficult histories include the recollections of trauma, oppression, and violence. The challenge for museum workers to develop ethical representations of difficult histories is finding an equitable equation for combining the three conceptual components: Faces, Real content, and Narratives. When combined, these three components are the building blocks for developing ethical representations of difficult histories.

A kind of courage emerges from museum workers and visitors who develop and respond to ethical representations. When museum workers help visitors develop a sense of belonging to a moral culture, the power of community allows visitors to consider how they can imagine how they might bring justice to others in the present day. Ethical representations remind and inform visitors that oppression and violence are what human beings are capable of doing.

Museums take the risks to represent difficult histories to awaken a kind of passion in visitors by challenging the taken-for-granted historical truths and revealing the struggles for a more just and compassionate moral order. The three building blocks enable museum workers to develop ethical representations needed to direct and sustain visitors’ empathetic responses to difficult histories. 

Autumn 2013