Special Issue of Museum & Society: Call for Papers

pexels-photo-137038Special Issue of Museum & Society: Call for Papers

Call for papers for a Special Issue of Museum & Society – Museum Methods: Researching the Museum as Institution.


Nuala Morse, University of Manchester and University College London

Bethany Rex, University of Newcastle

Sarah Richardson, University of Leeds

Research in museums takes many forms; however, there has been significantly less work investigating the museum through institutional or organisational lenses. Overall, museum studies as a disciplinary field has tended to favour textual readings of museums, focused on the poetics of exhibitions or audience meaning-making through single gallery case studies. Some notable exceptions have increased our understanding of the internal workings of museums (Macdonald, 2001; Bouquet 2002; Zolberg, 1984), but there has been less work that has engaged with the museum in its entirety, attending to the complexity and multiplicity of its functions: as public institution, as corporate organisation, as space of representation, as educational establishment, as archive and collection store, and as legal entity with different governance arrangements. This is important to consider at a time where museum functions are arguably further expanding, notably as the funding structures of museums are changing.

Critically, there has been little offered in terms of methodological starting points to these concerns: the question of how to research the museum is rarely addressed, and on the whole, methodology is a subject that has mostly been absent from museum studies. As a distinctly interdisciplinary field, museum studies has embraced a range of diverse methods but without really addressing what ‘museum methodologies’ might usefully (and critically) encompass. Thinking about the multiple functions of museums briefly highlighted above, there has been a particular lack of engagement with institutional and organisational methods for researching museums.

This special issue aims to address this important gap, by focusing on methods for researching the museum as both institution and as organisation. The editorial will address the implications of these distinct concerns. The understanding of institutional and organisational methods advanced here takes inspiration from moves in geography, STS and cognate disciplines where a focus on processes, situated practices and organisational dispositions (Pallett and Chilvers 2014) has been coupled with a rich expansion in methodological sensibilities. In a turn away from strictly self-reflexive narratives of methodologies chosen and employed, this expansion has also advanced a heightened recognition of the consequences of our research practices and their politics. The special issue wishes to push a similar expansion in studies of the museum.

We are interested in methodological approaches that take the museum as an object of organisational and/or institutional concern. The unifying concern of the special issue is to investigate the bureaucratic features of museums: the rules, norms and codes of conduct through which museums are organised, as well as the mundane administrative dimensions and working practices of museums and their effects, We are looking for papers that address museum bureaucracies through a variety of museum activities such as management, development, education, community engagement, leadership, and exhibitions.

We therefore welcome papers focused on the topics below:

  • The institutional life of museum, including how the everyday practices of professionals make up museum-work worlds
  • The museum and understandings of bureaucracy
  • Particular features of museums as organisations, for example, professional amnesia
  • Organisational/Institutional rules in museums and how they affect practice
  • The social life of methods in museums
  • How institutional/organisational methods can be used as a site of critique
  • How can researching museums speak to other ways of understanding other institutions.

We are particularly interested in papers that draw upon methods developed in other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and organisational studies and explore how they can be applied with the museum as object of research. This might include embedded approaches, including organisational/institutional ethnography (Ybema, et al., 2009; Cefkin, 2010), Participatory Action Research (Cameron, 2007), systems theory approaches (Bateson, 2001), and socio-material approaches, including Actor-Network Theory (Latour, 2005; Fenwick et al, 2015).

Potential authors:

The focus on the Special Issue is on methods: each paper must provide a clear contribution to developing methodologies for researching museums and their institutional, organisational and bureaucratic work, and may also debate the practicalities, promise and politics of such approaches across different international contexts. Papers will provide either theoretically informed pieces that outline methodological ‘road maps’ for exploring how museums function, or empirical methods papers that open up alternative ways of thinking about museums. Potential authors are encouraged to submit an abstract that will be reviewed by the editors. Abstracts should be between 300 and 400 words. Authors will then be invited to submit a full manuscript and all submissions will be subject to a peer review process.


Submission guidelines:

Manuscripts length will be between 5,000 and 8,000 words, following the journal guidelines. The journal guidelines are available here.


19 December 2016: authors to send abstracts to editors.

16 January 2017: editors notify authors whether the abstract has been accepted.

30 June 2017: authors to send first drafts of full manuscript to editors.

Manuscripts will then be sent to peer review, and papers invited for a ‘revise and resubmit’ will be due in early 2018. The special issue will be published in 2018.

Please send your abstract or any queries to Nuala Morse – nuala.morse@manchester.ac.uk

We look forward to receiving your contribution!

Nuala Morse, Bethany Rex and Sarah Richardson


Call for Papers: Discourse, Culture and Politics

An interdisciplinary symposium in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Hosted by the Newcastle Critical Discourse Group (NCDG) http://www.criticaldiscoursegroup.net/

Wednesday 18th May 2016, 11am-5pm, Newcastle University, KGVI.LT1

The NCDG is organizing a half-day symposium for PhD researchers across the social sciences. This would be a great opportunity for PGR students at all stages to present their work, get feedback and build networks across the faculty through a friendly and supportive environment. The event is not limited to research in critical discourse studies. We invite submissions on any topic related the theme of the symposium.

– If you would like to present you can reserve a place on the symposium programme by sending a title and abstract (150-250 words) to Pomelo (s.lekngam@newcastle.ac.uk) and May (m.kwanjai@newcastle.ac.uk ) by 5pm on Sunday 15th May 2016.

– Alongside your title and abstract, please include your full contact details and a brief biographical note (your name, your school & university)

– Please also specify in which stage of your PhD research you think you are (e.g. early, middle or final stage).

– Presentations will be around 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for Q&A

– The symposium will be closed with a round-table discussion, chaired by Majid Khosravinik and Darren Kelsey to ask further questions and continue discussion on general issues of research at PhD level

– PhD students in Newcastle University HASS faculty are strongly encouraged to attend and present at this event

– Fellow PhD researchers from other universities are also very welcome. We would love to hear about other research environments

– Please feel welcome to join us and attend this unique event even if you are not delivering a paper. The full event programme will be made available in advance of the day.

– If you do wish to present but you would like to attend, please send an email to our organising team (lunch will be provided if you confirm your attendance in advance): Suwannamas Lekngam (Pomelo) at s.lekngam@newcastle.ac.uk Mesirin Kwanjai (May) at m.kwanjai@newcastle.ac.uk

Thank you and we hope to see you at the symposium.

Best wishes

Organising committee members

Call for Papers: 2016 Undergraduate Research Conference

Wed 20th April, 1pm-5pm
BSTC.1.46 Newcastle University
Organised by students in MCH

The 2016 Undergraduate Research Conference aims to showcase excellent research in the field of Media, Culture and Heritage, done by our final year students as part of their undergraduate dissertations.

If you wish to present your undergraduate research, please submit a short summary of your research topic (no more than 200-300 words) to Antonia Velikova at a.m.velikova@ncl.ac.uk by the 25th March 2016, using the subject line: UG CONFERENCE: [name of your research project].

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

Social and mass media
Celebrity culture
Gender and sexuality in media
Media representations
Globalisations, PR and advertising
And more.

The conference will be an opportunity to develop your presentation skills, present your research to an audience of students throughout all stages of the degree, and receive valuable feedback that can be later incorporated into your final project.

A guidance session will be organised for everyone who is willing to present their research at the conference.

We look forward to seeing you!