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Colonial Legacies & Post-Colonial Challenges - Critical Museum Studies

Dive into the highly political role of heritage collections in the construction of so-called “legitimate” knowledge and collective memory

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
Field of studies
  • Art, Design and Media
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Short-term
  • CIVIS Hub 2
Course dates
4 - 7 July 2022

For a long time, museum collections served the construction and legitimization of scientific disciplines such as anthropology, but also medicine, biology or history, without their constitution being really questioned. From the 1980s and 1990s, the emerging perspectives of the “New Museology” began to question collecting practices themselves. These questions necessarily led to others concerning the construction of scientific knowledge and collective memory. The practice of scientific collection (notably in the framework of ethnographic fieldwork in a “colonial situation”) and its political role began to be questioned.

The practice of selection of narratives operated by the exhibition became an object of study, as well as the conservation practices at work in museums and that began to be analyzed through the prism of the relationships between power and knowledge. Finally, the nature of the relationship built by museum mediators and art educators between museum audiences and objects appeared in turn as structured by hidden hierarchies and entangled in power relations.

This Summer School will thus focus on the highly political role of heritage collections in the construction of so-called “legitimate” knowledge and collective memory, as well as on the ways in which the constitution and use of these collections are questioned today.

Over the course of a 4-day program, students will become familiar with these issues, which will be the subject of group work. Their reflections will be encouraged through meetings organized with several museum and mediation professionals of the city of Marseille, as well as researchers specializing in critical museology. 

Main topics addressed

  • Critical Museum & Heritage Studies
  • Post-colonial Studies
  • Colonial past & Museum collections
  • Social & political role of the Museum
  • Audience engagement

Learning outcomes

  • Become familiar with current issues in museum studies
  • Learn about objects polysemy & how to do the mediation of museum collections
  • Learn about how to conceptualize an exhibition
  • Learn about how to engage visitors
  • Collaborate with other students on a project
Dates: 4 - 7 July 2022 Format: Blended
Location: Marseille, France CIVIS scholarships: 16
Language: English ECTS: 6*
Contact hours: ~170 Individual workload: ~30

* The recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

This CIVIS course is organised as follows:

  • A Summer School that will be held in Marseille, France, from 4 to 7 July 2022
  • 3 online lectures with discussion prior to the Summer School, in April, May and/or June (dates coming soon)


This CIVIS course is open to Bachelor's and Master students at one of CIVIS member universities. 

Good command of English is required (read, written, spoken) as it will be the main working language for this CIVIS course.

Application process

Interested students should send an e-mail to Judith Dehail with:

  • A CV (showing their academic background as well as previous seminars or experience in the museum field/cultural field) 
  • A cover letter (400 words) explaining their motivation to participate in this Summer School

Both documents should be written in English.

Selected students will be notified in April 2022.


The evaluation of the participants at the end of the program will be based on the outcome of their group work consisting in the development of their own small scale participatory activity based on the input gathered along with the program as well as the critical review of the exhibitions visited.  

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • Dr. Judith Dehail (Aix-Marseille Université)
  • Prof. Dr. Marlen Mouliou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Thiemeyer (University of Tübingen)