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First book on developpement of caribbean museums published

Plantation_to_Nation-Hi-ResPlantation to Nation: Caribbean Museums and National Identity, the first book to focus on the growth and development of Caribbean museums and museology, has recently been released by Common Ground Publishing.

Edited by Alissandra Cummins, Kevin Farmer and Roslyn Russell, Plantation to Nation:Caribbean Museums and National Identity addresses museums across the region and provides rich source material for a much-needed discourse on their evolution.

Based on new research within the last decade, the 16 chapters in Plantation to Nation explore the emergence of Caribbean museums from colonial-era institutions that supported imperialistic goals to today’s museums that aim to recover submerged or marginalized histories, assert national identities and celebrate cultural diversity. Museologists from across the region and internationally address the challenges faced by museums in the Caribbean, both historically and in the contemporary setting.

Museum developments in 19 countries – Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands – are referred to in chapters by a diverse range of museologists from English, French, Dutch and Spanish-speaking backgrounds.

The book’s opening chapters deal with the early history of Caribbean museums that were formed in the colonialist context, and consider how far they have travelled from the museological ideology that created them. The theme of submerged narratives and recovered memories of crucial formative experiences such as slavery resonates strongly in these writings.

Subsequent chapters deal with the evolution of museums and collections in specific contexts, including museums created in historic colonial-era buildings such as forts and former plantations that, having become heritage sites, do not always reveal the uncomfortable truths surrounding their origins. They are still history in the making.

The final section of the book examines new directions that have informed museum developments in the Caribbean since independence from colonial rule, at a time when identity creation became the core mandate of cultural institutions such as museums and heritage sites.

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