This site aims to document the different stages involved in a collective research project on the social appropriations of historical exhibitions in a commemorative context. An interrogation as to what visitors see and take from these exhibitions, the MEMU project aims to identify the gaze and experience of the men and women the exhibitions are targeted at. It is generally assumed that historical exhibitions are “vectors of memory” and thus participate in constructing representations of the past. Yet very few empirical studies back this up. This is why the research documented on this blog suggests we return to the history museums themselves. Taking the opportunity presented by the numerous exhibitions linked to the commemoration of the First World War, the field sites use here mainly (but not exclusively) reflect this theme.
The research underway will of course lead to several scientific publications, subject to blind peer review. Although some of these texts have already been published, others will be produced in the years to come. Research is a long-term process and we defend this necessarily slow time-frame.
Yet these research projects are conducted in connection both with citizens who agree to participate, and with the institutions who host these exhibitions. In light of this, it appeared useful to provide a space in which to share the insights that emerge as the fieldwork progresses, even if we cannot yet provide definitive results.
Through this blog we hope to be able to demonstrate what social science research consists of, and to provide an example of the possibilities for dialogue between researchers and museum professionals.
This project is supported by the ANR project : Labex, the past in the Present, investing in the future. ANR-11-LABX-0026-01. It is also subsidised by the First World War Centenary Partnership Programme.