Christine Chivallon

Museological discourse and slave experience

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This article analyses patrimonial discourses through a number of key study sites mainly based in metropolitan France and its overseas Caribbean departments. It foregrounds four discursive strategies that enable the slave past to become visible through the medium of museography — namely, periodization, national narration, witness sites and monumentality. Overall, it argues that the museographical strategies that are intended to voice the slave past force slavery to conform to circumstantial political demands. More than that, they serve to shape the museum narrative itself, such that this chapter questions the extent to which the museum can ever provide adequate knowledge about, and recognition for, the human experience of slavery.

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