'Man's inhumanity to man' and other platitudes of avoidance and misrecognition: an analysis of visitor responses to exhibitions marking the 1807 bicentenary

Laurajane Smith
2010 Museum & Society  
2007 marked the bicentenary of Britain's abolition of its slave trade. This paper outlines the findings of interviews undertaken with 1498 visitors to eight museum exhibitions marking the bicentenary. One of the major findings of the research was the degree to which visitors from different self-identified ethnic groups responded to the both the exhibitions and the bicentenary itself. This paper focuses on the white British response, a response dominated by emotional avoidance and disengagement
more » ... ith exhibition content. The role of the authorised heritage discourse (AHD) in this response is discussed, and a number of self-sufficient arguments utilised in emotionally insulating visitors from exhibition content are identified.
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