Artifacts and Allegiances:
How Museums Put the Nation and
the World on Display
by Peggy Levitt, University of California Press
What can we learn about nationalism by looking at a country’s cultural institutions? How do the history and culture of particular cities help explain how museums represent diversity? Artifacts and Allegiances takes us around the world to tell the compelling story of how museums today are making sense of immigration and globalization. Based on firsthand conversations with museum directors, curators, and policymakers; descriptions of current and future exhibitions; and the inside stories about the famous paintings and iconic objects that define collections across the globe, this work provides a close-up view of how different kinds of institutions balance nationalism and cosmopolitanism. By comparing museums in Europe, the United States, Asia, and the Middle East, Peggy Levitt offers a fresh perspective on the role of the museum in shaping citizens. Taken together, these accounts tell the fascinating story of a sea change underway in the museum world at large.
Praise for Artifacts and Allegiances
“In this diligent international study, Levitt...uses a series of case studies to evaluate how museums are adapting to the new global environment, which is marked by rapid immigration and social change. Levitt sets up some revealing comparisons among institutions. …an illuminating study that will be of interest to academics and museum professionals working in the field today.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“One of the best illustrations of how a theoretically rich, multi-sited global ethnography is possible—without a trace of the jargon and pontification found in so much global social theory.”—Adrian Favell, Professor of Sociology, Sciences Po, Paris
“Unearths a story of quiet, nearly invisible, heroism as curators mount exhibitions to encourage us to appreciate cosmopolitan values and engage with cultural difference. This is a beautifully researched and crafted book written by one of the most imaginative sociologists I know.”—Robin Cohen, Emeritus Professor and Former Director of the International Migration Institute, University of Oxford
“Peggy Levitt has written a fascinating story about the various strategies and trajectories museums are taking locally in their struggle for cultural relevance in the twenty-first century. Readers are immersed in reflections about diversity, migration, cosmopolitanism, and nationalism, about global gazes and situated ways of acting.”—Thomas Fillitz, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna
“Exhibiting the same storytelling ease that new age museums do, Levitt shows how the turnstile of the self-perceived interior and exterior of the nation, or the cosmopolitan-nationalism continuum, is located at the very heart of museums.”—Kwok Kian Chow, National Gallery Singapore
Available from University of California Press and Amazon.