Power and Politics in the Post/Colonial Museum INFOST5025

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

Power and Politics in the Post/Colonial Museum presents students with the opportunity to examine connections between museums and empire through a lively seminar-based course. Rooted in discussions of decolonisation, the course considers how museums and other cultural heritage institutions were implicated in European colonialism and imperialism and the after-effects of these processes. Consequently, it both examines the ways in which these institutions functioned as tools of empire in the past and also looks to professional practices, skills and knowledge that might enable decolonial work in the present.


1 x two-hour seminar over 11 consecutive weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College Level

Excluded Courses






Short-form report (e.g. exhibition review, display critique, seminar paper) of 1000-1500 words in length (30%)

Essay of 3000 words (70%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ introduce students to key events, theories and debates concerning the relationship between memory institutions, principally museums, and colonialism, imperialism, postcoloniality and decolonisation, and provide them with the opportunity to develop nuanced understandings of these issues;

■ enable students to critically analyse how museums have and continue to be impacted by processes of empire and its after-effects;

■ develop students' knowledge and understanding of these topics and support students in becoming critical and independent thinkers;

■ encourage students to take account of these issues when reflecting on their values as cultural heritage professionals.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Discuss and describe key events, theories and debates concerning the relationship between museums and processes of empire and its after-effects in written and oral forms;

■ Differentiate between diverse scholarly arguments and professional viewpoints;

■ Apply theories of decolonisation to the critical analysis of historic and contemporary museum operations such as collecting, classification, display and interpretation;

■ Evaluate the implications of decolonial theory for contemporary museum practice;

■ Assess and reflect on their positionality, values and ethics as cultural heritage professionals in the context of current discussions regarding decolonisation, representation, equalities and anti-racist practice.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.