This blog is the place to exchange ideas, news, issues and thoughts about diversity and multiculturalism in museums. The Multicultural Initiatives Committee is a Texas Association of Museums Affinity Group.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Achieving Diversity Is Not Just a New American Trend!

Some people believe that this whole talk of diverisitymay be a new buzz in the American business and public sectors. Most of us have heard enough about affirmative action and diversity initiatives in our organizations, and we may even roll our eyes at the idea of "cultural competency" training and the like.

However, this is not just an American issue. It is not just a political issue. And most certainly is not just a "trendy" issue. It is a global issue that has been around for a very long time. To illustrate, the International Committee of Museums (ICOM) initiative that had its roots back to 1972 show how museums play a role in the international community in achieving equality, inclusion and democracy. I am quoting just a few of the statements from thier website. To read the entire document, follow the link above:

  • Increasing recognition that Cultural diversity is a historical and social reality at the local, regional, national and global levels and that museums should reflect the cultural diversity of the clientele constituencies. The cultural diversity of different nations is a rich inheritance of humanity that will endure as the central pillar for peace, harmony and cultural sustainability of the world. The promotion of this global inheritance through the processes of cultural pluralism is the responsibility of all societies. There is a fundamental need to acknowledge that all cultures and their manifestations are equally valid in a culturally democratic world.

  • Within this context museums in different parts of the world are exploring ways of relating to community cultural and economic development, the sense of place, identity and self-esteem of different people. Exploration of inclusive museology which has the capacity to address different contextual frameworks of cultural diversity including a multiplicity of interactions and cultural borders. These borders include race, ethnicity, colour, gender, class, age, physical ability, regions, location, language, faith, creed, economic status, sexual preference and so on.

  • Increasing awareness about the cultural needs of minorities, indigenous populations and 'societies in transition' who have experienced disempowerment through displacement, dispossession and the ravages of war. The particular concerns of minorities whose cultural self-esteem and hence well-being is at risk through a process of overt or covert marginalisation in mainstream societies are being addressed by museums in different parts of the world. There is an increasing demand to address the post-colonial position of transplanted populations, such as the descendants of slave trades and indentured labour practices, and their disadvantaged inheritance due to the practices of colonialism and imperialism through the promotion of cultural exchanges between root and diasporic cultures. The international museum community is also playing an active role in the reconstruction and development of institutions ravaged by recent developments in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world.

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