Museum-making: ‘New’ Canadians reimagine heritage and citizenship

Susan Ashley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores how heritage institutions, particularly museums, contribute to practices of democracy as spaces and media of knowledge-building used by “new” Canadians. What is represented in a museum, a public space, can affect how Canadian society sees itself, how outsiders see us, and who is defined as belonging to this community as citizens. Museums have historically been situated at the intersection of representation and citizenship, as both formally and informally inscribed. They represent and authenticate official statements about meaning and belonging, while at the same time serving as “neutral” public spaces for knowledge-building and citizen participation. Museums legitimize versions of a state or community’s history, what is accepted as heritage, who belongs to that heritage, who has membership and status within a community, and who does not belong. And expressions of nondominant players may be included or appropriated by this institution. Yet at the same time they serve as informal public spaces or arenas for social interaction and dialogue. The balancing of these seemingly incommensurate roles has been a central question in museology—representing and shaping citizens on one hand, and on the other serving as site and tool for alternative meaning-making, expressions, and participation in culture, heritage, and citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRepresentation and Citizenship
EditorsRichard Marback
Place of PublicationDetroit
PublisherWayne State University Press
Number of pages232
ISBN (Print)9780814342473
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

Publication series

NameSeries in Citizenship Studies
PublisherWayne State University Press


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