Museums in Times of Political Change. Looking at Eastern Europe

November 7-9, 2018, Oldenburg (Oldb), Germany

Call for papers

In past and present times museums and material culture studies represent central research topics not only within European Ethnology. In recent years, research approaches have undergone a critical revision. Researchers of social and cultural studies have approached the museum as an area of the history of knowledge and science as well as the popularisation of science. They have addressed the interplay between museums, the politics of history, forms of commemoration and remembrance and social discourses. It has become increasingly clear that “musealisation” should be understood as a productive element of politically influenced historical imaginations, remembrances and culture.

Therefore, museums will be the central objects of research, on the one hand as formations of political and social processes and on the other as institutions in which knowledge and narratives are produced and imparted. Accordingly, the aim is to examine determining factors in cultural policies as well as the effects of social and political change on museum collections and productions since the late 19th century.

In general, the conference will address two focal points. The first is the politics of knowledge production in and by museums, specifically by taking a closer look at the creation of conception, myths and narratives as well as by analysing the constructive, reconstructive as well as deconstructive function of the museum as an institution. In addition, it is of interest to critically reflect on the epistemological potential of material culture.

Secondly, we intend to focus on the creation and development of museums as institutions within social and political processes. Analysing the effects of these processes, transformations and turning points on the history and conception of museums therefore bears exciting potential. In this context, the individual actors, their networks and the influential institutions are potential fields of study that can take into account epistemological aspects, public debates and current trends.

Possible topics for contributions include:

  • Museums in political contexts,
  • Continuities, turning points and transformations as demonstrated by the example of individual museums (translocations, destructions, reinterpretations, focus shifts, (re-) nationalisation),
  • Networks and stakeholders in the politics of culture, history and museums,
  • Interpretations and narratives in museums and exhibitions,
  • Reflections on theory and methods in museum research.

We welcome submissions from a variety of disciplines (cultural anthropology, ethnology, history, cultural and museum studies) and from academics as well as museum professionals. Eastern Europe will be the focus of the conference; however for comparative purposes we specifically encourage applications from researchers, who are specialized in other regions.

The conference language is German and English. We expect to be able to cover the speakers’ travel and accommodation expenses. Funding for the conference is provided by the Johann Gottfried Herder Research Council (European Ethnology Section).

Time and Venue of the conference is November 7th to 9th, 2018 at the Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe in Oldenburg (Oldb), Germany.

Please submit your abstract of 300–400 words for a 20-minute paper, along with a short CV by
April 6th, 2018 to: Dr. Cornelia Eisler ( or Dr. Heinke Kalinke (

Contact Info:

Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe in Oldenburg (Oldb), Germany

Dr. Cornelia Eisler (

Dr. Heinke Kalinke (

Contact Email:


Deadline: April 6, 2018

Posted: March 28, 2018