7 May 2015
For the last few weeks I have been on placement with the Social Justice Alliance of Museums (SJAM), as part of my Museum and Heritage Studies MA from Liverpool Hope University. I choose to do my placement with SJAM, as I was interested in learning more about social justice and to see how different museums have addressed the issue.
The main role of my placement was to design and analyse a survey of SJAM members. This survey was designed to see how SJAM should be developed for the future. The results from this survey were very informative and highlighted the different interpretations and topics relating to social justice across the world. Although, no single definition about what is social justice was defined, common themes were improving access and ensuring equal representation of all members of society. Another key area, which was commonly mentioned by members, was that museums should tackle contemporary and difficult subjects. Museums are considered as safe places and making them ideal places to talk about sensitive issues; encouraging people to think critically about their society they live in.
The survey also found that members would like conferences and workshops in order to communicate ideas on social justice. This is a potential area of growth for SJAM in the future and could encourage further conversations. The survey asked whether SJAM should act as an advocate to which the majority of respondents answered yes. Again, this is an area of expansion for SJAM and it will be interesting to see how this will develop.
My favourite task in my placement was working on the case studies for the SJAM website. This involved reading through all the different case studies online and deciding on key words for each case study. I enjoyed this, because it gave me an incredible insight into the different projects going on across the world to promote social justice. Not only did I learn about different ways of promoting inclusion, I also learnt a lot on different issues from promoting peace to confronting modern day slavery. The diversity of subjects the case studies cover, highlights the many different ways museums can increase their access and improve their relevance to society. Museum can have big impacts on their local communities when they actively address issues of inclusion and representation.
On the practical side, this exercise was done, to improve the access and visibility to the case studies page on the website. Soon, this page will be separated into four categories of: Advocacy, Participation, Collections and Guidance. In addition to this the key words will be listed on the right-hand side of the page, allowing people to search through the case studies by theme. Hopefully, this will enable people to find relevant case studies to their work or research area easier:
I have deeply enjoyed my time spent on SJAM; it has inspired me to continue my interest in promoting social justice in museums. I hope in the future, I am able to play my own part in providing social justice within museums.