Researching the Field: Practice and Power
Full course description
In this course you take a deeper dive in the field of arts and heritage: it is a further introduction into working as an arts and heritage researcher. You zoom in on – and engage with - practices. In groups and individually, you explore what it is that arts and heritage institutions, organizations, collectives, or individuals do. By exploring questions as - What drives these actors? How do they try to realize their mission? What holds them back? - you will come to an understanding of the dynamics of the arts and heritage field. And you get a grasp of which processes arts and heritage practices emerge from.
The approach we take is characterized by a combination of theories on some of the current practices in the field - management, conservation, learning and inclusivity – and a commissioned research project for an arts and heritage organization in Maastricht. As such, you will come to understand arts and heritage practices as a field of contestations. After completing this course, you will be able to research arts and heritage practices as dynamic processes in which power relations surrounding issues as identity, ethics and aesthetics are key. This will assist you in developing your own research trajectory as part of the thesis and elective courses.
Researching the arts and heritage field by exploring relations between practice and power, this course builds mainly on key academic debates in the subfields of heritage and museum studies. Throughout the eight-week period, you will combine these academic insights with your own research experiences in the professional field. In weeks three and four, you will be embedded in an arts or heritage organization with the assignment to design a strategic advice regarding their marketing, education or presentation practice. During the project, you will gain hands-on experience as an arts and heritage research-practitioner: you learn about the everyday operations of an organization and you observe how policy gets translated into practice. You will strengthen your research skills by practicing ethnographic research methods such as interviewing and direct observation.
Through lectures, close readings sessions and workshops you will bring theory and practice together. You will work towards a mini research paper in which you reflect on your project experiences through one of the thematic lenses: management, conservation, learning or inclusivity. You will practice your academic writing and research design skills individually and share your experiences via peer review sessions. As such, this course sets you up to further develop as a reflexive practitioner and to make an informed decision about how to further specialize.
At the end of the course, you are able to:
demonstrate advanced knowledge of key debates, definitions, theories and methods with regards to management, conservation, inclusivity and learning in the fields of arts & heritage;
critically analyze and understand the practice of the various actors in professional arts and heritage practices;
critically analyze and understand how all arts and heritage is situated and the result of its relation to institutions of power;
understand relevant research methods to research arts & heritage practices, e.g. discourse analysis, ethnography, interviewing;
demonstrate knowledge of how to collect empirical data about arts & heritage practices;
demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the practice and functioning of a particular organization (in the field of arts and heritage) through strategic recommendations;
perform commissioned research and communicate research results to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
write an academic paper on arts and heritage practices that draws on the knowledge and skills acquired in the course.
Fairclough, G., Harrison, R., Jameson Jnr, J.H. & J. Schofield eds. (2008). The Heritage Reader. Routledge.
Karp, I., Kratz, C. A., Szwaja, L., & T. Ybarra-Frausto, T. eds. (2006). Museum frictions. Public cultures/Global transformations. Duke University Press.
Walsh, D. & Seale, C. (2018). Doing ethnography. In C. Seale (Ed.), Researching Society and Culture (4th ed., pp. 257-274). Sage.