Conference 2011

Fighting for equality

The second conference took place on 10-13 October 2011 at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, where 85 delegates from 20 countries discussed many perspectives on museums and human rights.

The conference ran under the patronage of UNESCO and the overall theme of the conference was Fighting for equality: social change through human rights activism.

Human rights abuses can be found in every country in the world: child labour, human trafficking, gender inequalities, discrimination and slavery. In order to combat these abuses we need to learn to work together across national and cultural boundaries. This conference will consider the contribution that can be made by museums, which traditionally have not been active in the field of human rights, yet which are among the world’s most powerful cultural institutions.

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Politics and human rights

The denial of human rights to millions of people may be the biggest political challenge of our age. Every museum has a different political context in which it works, but no museum is entirely powerless to fight for human rights. With this in mind, we will look at some of the ways museums have found to work within their political structures to help make a difference in this fight.

Museums and Civil Rights

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Regrettably this is not always the case. For many, Civil Rights have to be fought for, campaigned for and sometimes they have demanded the ultimate sacrifice. Considering how evocative these issues can be, are museums able to campaign for civil rights for those who are denied them? Is it the place of museums to strive to do so? How can we achieve this goal and with whom?

Modern Slavery

With human rights violations still existing today, and people being forced into slavery through forced marriage, bonded labour, trafficking, and child labour, how far can museums really go in working towards ending slavery today? What partnerships exist that combine the forces of contemporary campaign agencies and museum educators? What have our next generation of young people got to say about issues affecting them and their peers?

Working in Partnership

In their role to be socially responsible organisations, museums must be aware of the local, national and international context within which they work. Museums are increasingly working in partnership with other museums, their local communities, the education and wider cultural sector, affiliated institutions, and NGOs. How can partnerships help promote human rights and help bring about positive social change both locally and on a global scale?


Papers and presentations

2011 FIHRM conference programme

Download as pdf document

You can download papers and presentations of the conference below.

Day One


Opening Speech

Dr David Fleming, Director, National Museums Liverpool, Founding FIHRM President

Keynote speech

Fighting for Equality: Social change through human rights activism - the role of UNESCO

Angela Melo, Director of the Division of Human Rights, Philosophy and Democracy, UNESCO

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Session 1

Chair: Dr Richard Benjamin, Head of the International Slavery Museum, National Museums Liverpool

The work of museums: The implications of human right museology

Dr. Jennifer Carter, Assistant Professor in the Museum Studies program at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto & Jennifer Orange, AdjunctProfessor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto.

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Museums and civil rights

Lucina D. Shayo, Education Officer, Museum and House of Culture, Tanzania.

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Encounters in the District Six Museum

Bonita Bennett, Director, District Six Museum, South Africa

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Doors being open: Rights of Afrodescendents in the National Museum of Colombia

Cristina Lleras, Art and History Curator, Museo Nacional de Colombia, Colombia (presented by Sofía Natalia González)

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Online Activism: The National Museum of Australia exhibition website Inside: Life in Children's Homes

Adele Chynoweth, Curator, National Museum of Australia, Australia

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Session 2

Chair: Tracy Puklowski, General Manager of National Services Te Paerangi, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand

Inspiring Leaders: Museums Programs Educate about Genocide Prevention and Reinforce Professional Responsibility

Jennifer Ciardelli, Program Coordinator, Civic and Defence Initiatives, 202.479.9714 National Institute for Holocaust Education, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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Crimes against humanity and public programming at the Imperial War Museum

Emily Fuggle, Research Officer at the Imperial War Museum, London.

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What are we doing anyway? The problem of the effectiveness of museums

Dr. Zahava D. Doering. Editor of Curator: The Museum Journal and Senior Social Scientist, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

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Slave - A Question Of Freedom - adaptation of Mende Nazer's book Slave

Performed by Feelgood Theatre Productions - Winner of the Pete Postlethwaite, Manchester Evening News, Best New Play Award.


Day Two

Keynote speech

"I struggle therefore I am" - the public responsibility of the academic

Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of Liverpool Hope University

Session 1

Chair:  Dr. Zahava D. Doering. Editor of Curator: The Museum Journal and Senior Social Scientist, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Te Papa Museum and its partnerships

Tracy Puklowski, General Manager of National Services Te Paerangi, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand

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Taku Manawa (My Human Rights) - a case study in partnership Waikato Museum working with the Human Rights Commission and community

Jasmine Tunstall, Education Programme Team Leader of Social History and Art, Waikato Museum, New Zealand

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The Holocaust and the Inner City: Experiences of a local anti-racism initiative

Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies in the School of Languages, Cultures and Area Studies at the University of Liverpool, John McCarthy, Pupil Support Worker at the Enterprise South Liverpool Academy & Paul Adams, Community Engagement Officer, Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Liverpool.

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Nicholas Wolpe, CEO of the Liliesleaf Trust, South Africa

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Anti-Slavery Education Workshop - Cut Cotton Crimes

Michaela Alfred-Kamara, Education Officer, Anti-Slavery International

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Please visit the Anti-Slavery International website for more information


Session 2

Chair: Richard Freedman, Director, South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa.

Vietnamese Women's Museum activities target marginalized groups for achieving its equity and development objectives

Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Director, Vietnamese Women's Museum, Vietnam.

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Modern Slavery

Victoria Okoloagu, Education Officer, National Museum Lagos, Nigeria.

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Freedom and democracy values inMoldova: challenges for the future

Nicoleta Zagura, ICOM Moldova Secretary General, Romania.

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Museums tackling HIV/AIDS through Rights (case study)

Michael Gondwe, Curator/Education Coordinator, National Museums of Malawi, Malawi.

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Marketplace of Ideas - Poster sessions

Poster sessions are widely used at conferences to replace concurrent sessions of oral presentations of papers. It is a visual and concise method of presenting one's work. All posters will be displayed in the conference space and will be available for viewing by the public throughout the conference.

Light up a story! The matchbox of stories!

Nathalie Jendly, Project Director, La Suisse Raconte, Switzerland

Conference feedback

Here are just some of the comments that we received after the conference:

Overall comments

"It was an excellent experience and inspirational to hear from so many around the world on such great work"

"It was a wonderfully well-organized conference with a fascinating list of speakers and participants"

"I'd like to thank you all for devoting such great time, energy and ideas to the causes of museums and human rights at FIHRM, and for providing so many of us with the exceptional opportunity to connect with scholars and practitioners from around the world on this important subject. I am so pleased to have been among you at this event"

"I really enjoyed the event and found it very interesting to speak to and share ideas with so many other museum professionals working in this field"

"It was enlightening to hear about the varied work expressed by all panelists"

"Excellent conference in general. Welcoming and stimulating atmosphere. The tours were a great opportunity. I will be back next year. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity"

"I appreciated the sheer diversity of presentations. It is a rare thing for a museum conference to have that diversity"

"Thank you very much for an interesting conference! It was nice to be able to learn about the experiences in other parts of the world - very inspiring"


Partners and Support

The conference was generously granted UNESCO Patronage


Paul Hamlyn Foundation is a supporter of the FIHRM Conference 2011

Paul Hamlyn Foundation


ICOM is a full supporter of the FIHRM initiative


Hotel Partner

© 2011 Federation of International Human Rights Museums (FIHRM)