Front doors to freedom, portal to the past: History at the Ellis Island immigration museum, New York

Luke Christopher Desforges, Joanne Maddern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Heritage sites and museums play a significant role in the production and legitimization of historical knowledges and social identities. The potential for these institutions to act in ways that maintain deep-rooted inequalities in the relative power of social groups has long been noted by academic commentators. A critique of the role of museums in reproducing ‘official' histories is now well established. In this paper we explore new ways of conceptualizing and empirically exploring the production and politics of museum histories. By tracing the historical development of museums, we explore the power play between individual actors and institutions involved in production of the museum, and the multi-vocal histories and landscapes which result from the interaction between these actors. We illustrate these arguments through a case study of Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York Harbor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-457
Number of pages11
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2004

Keywords

  • museums
  • heritage
  • social identity
  • multicultural diversity
  • immigration
  • New York

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