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Front doors to freedom, portal to the past: history at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York

Front doors to freedom, portal to the past: history at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York

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Authors

  • Luke Desforges
  • Joanne Maddern

Research units

Info

Original languageEnglish
Pages437-457
Number of pages21
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Journal publication dateSep 2004
Journal number3
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished

Abstract

Heritage sites and museums play a significant role in the production and legitimization of historical knowledges and social identities. The potential for these institutions to act in ways that maintain deep-rooted inequalities in the relative power of social groups has long been noted by academic commentators. A critique of the role of museums in reproducing ‘official’ histories is now well established. In this paper we explore new ways of conceptualizing and empirically exploring the production and politics of museum histories. By tracing the historical development of museums, we explore the power play between individual actors and institutions involved in production of the museum, and the multi-vocal histories and landscapes which result from the interaction between these actors. We illustrate these arguments through a case study of Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York Harbor.

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