MWNF was invited to present its over 20 years of experience in conceiving and managing intercultural projects.
The International Conference was organised by Sharjah Museums Department, National Museums of Berlin, Goethe-Institut Abu Dhabi and HTW Berlin - University of Applied Sciences and took place from 29 to 31 March 2015 at the Museum of Islamic Civilisations in Sharjah.
Due to globalisation and the increasing complexity of multicultural societies all over the world, including in particular also in the Gulf states - where almost 80% of the population is made up of migrants, cultural sciences, philology and translation studies are bringing intercultural and inner cultural processes of language and communication increasingly into focus.
In the international museum sector, too, the issue of appropriate intercultural language and communication is assuming an ever more crucial importance, be it in the development of already existing museums or new museums projects. With regard to the latter, the development of museums in the Arabian Gulf in particular seems to be the fastest and most dynamic. It is western or western-centric methodologies and terminologies that tend to prevail in such projects, with western or western-centric museological recommendations and ideas often conveyed in inappropriate ways of communication, seen from the content, the linguistic and indeed an intercultural point of view. Consequently, such dynamics often combine to prevent museums from reaching their full local potential in communicating with their highly stratified and diversified audiences. Meanwhile, analytical and evaluative discourses of such projects – be they museological or academic - in turn end up conveying a somewhat distorted reality with key aspects presented at worst neither accurately nor appropriately.
Beyond the context of the Arabian Gulf, of course language and communication also affect many aspects of intercultural museological cooperation worldwide. This is not only true in terms of language as a conveyor of factual content and meaning but also as the conveyor of important cultural, social and religious ideas, language being the expression of a culture and all its relationships and its conflicts. In many respects then, effective and appropriate intercultural-language and communication are an issue for practitioners working in the museum sector worldwide, and particularly those operating in multicultural, multilingual societies. It is the aim of this conference to explore some key issues and challenges in this respect.
This bilingual (English-Arabic) international conference will be presented with simultaneous translation throughout. Its aim is to highlight key themes in intercultural language and communication encountered in the museum sector through both informal talks, discussions and practical exercises. As museums communicate not only through language but also through artefacts, the conference will combine the exploration of appropriate terminologies and communication patterns with a consideration of objects as catalysts of intercultural communication and dialogue.
The results of the conference entitled “Appropriate Museology = Appropriate Language” are envisaged envisaged to feed into an ongoing discourse aimed eventually at identifying an ‘appropriate language’ for an ‘appropriate museology’ in the Gulf, anchored in local culture and inspired by transnational debate.