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Critical museology


Admission requirements

BA degree in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.


Building on a tradition of ‘critical museology’, this course seeks to provoke students into questioning what a museum is and does, and what it can be.
The aim of this course is to familiarise students with the main current debates within critical museology, and particularly new forms museums have been developing to engage with communities in a broad sense.
It takes a global approach, drawing from examples in Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia.

Through a critical analysis of case studies and literature we will explore topics such as the politics of representation and self-representation, issues of authority, control and inclusion/exclusion, the potential for social and historical criticism embedded in museum practices, claims to repatriation, the critical perspective of audiences, communities and the nation-state, post-colonialism and de-colonisation, among others.

Classes will explore recent controversial cases in the museum world. By the end of the term, students are expected to have gained critical insight into the different aspects involved in museum practices and community engagement. Student should be able to apply these ideas and perspectives to contemporary cases.

Course objectives

  • Understanding and a working appreciation of both theoretical and practical approaches to key issues in the field of museum anthropology and museum studies;

  • Ability to demonstrate a familiarity with, and express informed opinions about, current museological debates;

  • Ability to critically assess literature and argue one’s position;

  • Ability to maintain a discussion on the basis of the assigned literature;

  • Improve skills in evaluating the pros and cons of community engagement projects.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Discussion groups.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 28 hours of lectures (2 ects);

  • Literature including group assignment (2 ects);

  • Final paper (1 ects).

Assessment method

  • Group assignment (mid-term exam) (30%);

  • Individual assignment (final exam, paper) (70%).

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

  • I. Karp & S. Levine (eds), Exhibiting Cultures (1991). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press [selection of chapters];

  • S. MacDonald (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Museum Studies. London: Blackwell (2006) [selection of chapters].

Extra literature will be indicated at the beginning of the course.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. M. de Campos Francozo or dr. S. Wang.


  • The maximum amount of participants for this course is 30.
    Students within the heritage department have priority, followed by students within the Faculty of Archaeology.

  • Compulsory attendance.