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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Museums as spaces of belonging : racialized power in the margins Sandhra, Sharanjit Kaur


This dissertation addresses how museums, as colonial institutions, can become meaningful spaces of belonging for their racialized visitors. The methods used include visitor interviews at three case study sites: The first two sites, the Nikkei National Museum and Sikh Heritage Museum, offer insight from racialized communities within spaces that are made to be spaces of belonging for them, and the third site, the Burnaby Village Museum, offers comparisons to a space within a colonial museum where racialized visitors are able to experience an exhibit acknowledging their local presence and history for the first time. The visitor surveys reveal stark patterns in the affective responses to the sites, in particular, around feelings of belonging and a sense (or lack thereof) of connection to museum spaces. Based on these findings, this study also offers insights on how museums must change in order to become more inclusive spaces, especially with the continuing legacies of long histories of racial exclusion and denial that shaped, and still structure, so many public museums.

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