Human Rights Working Group

From collections of material culture and memory production to fresh perspectives on museums’ approaches to human rights: exploring contemporary international debates through social action

We created our working group around a shared interest in human rights, and for our first research project we have proposed a study of museums addressing issues of human rights. 

Museums as institutions and museology as a discipline have undergone a transformation in numerous countries over the past four decades. Many museological institutions -in various places around the world- are moving away from their traditional focus on collections of material culture. Instead, they are considering intangible heritage and placing communities and their needs at the heart of their work. This shift seems to indicate a change in the role museums play in society. Museums are adopting not only the traditional cultural but also a social role and they are becoming agents of change. This movement is also geared to address issues of social justice and influence people’s thoughts and actions toward human rights protection.

Our research advances this analysis by showing how not only are human rights museums emerging as a worldwide movement, but also how Holocaust museums have begun to address contemporary human rights issues, combining advocacy and activism with memory.


Fariba Almasi, Ph.D. student Social and Cultural Analysis; M.A. Sociology; B.A. Social Research.

Adriana Cabrera Cleves, Ph.D. student Social and Cultural Analysis; M.A. Museology; B.A. Communications.

Shoshana Paget, Ph.D. student Social and Cultural Analysis, M.A. Gender, Sexuality & Culture, B.A. Sociology/Anthropology.