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ERIC Number: EJ1033431
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
An/Other American Life: Minor Pedagogies of Culture and Heritage in the Arab American National Museum
Helmsing, Mark
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v36 n1 p71-88 2014
When entering the permanent exhibit titled "Living in America" in the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in Dearborn, Michigan, visitors are greeted with a sign that reads "Ahlan wa Sahlan." It is a greeting that translates in English to: "Your path is easier now that you are with us." The visitor, "you," is now a part of the "us." The exhibit is designed to express how Arab Americans have participated in the making of the United States through different processes of becoming citizens. These processes are represented by an array of political, economic, and cultural practices invoked by objects ranging a stub from an election ballot for a city council race; a cash register machine from a small grocery store owned and operated by an Arab American family; and a rack of recorded music albums produced by an Arab American music mogul. These objects draw the visitor from "your path" and onto the path of the "us" invoked by the sign outside the exhibit. This path of becoming an American citizen for the visitor is now "easier" in that the visitor can see, feel, and touch objects that connect the visitor to the peoples of the museum--Arab American citizens. The AANM positions its visitors to think past mere recognition and representation in order to interrogate the contingent, contradictory, and shifting cultural politics through which Arab American truths are encountered as localized knowledges, a lateral type of logic underpinning what the intellectual collaboration of Gilles Deleuze and FĂ©lix Guattari termed "the minor" (1986, 1987). In this article the author strives to show how the pedagogies of the AANM--what he terms "minor pedagogies"--open up potential moments of rupture in how its visitors perceive culture, history, and politics. Minor pedagogies seek to overturn repressive, dominating images of thought crystalized in the broader cultural public by tradition or popularity. The author examines two permanent exhibits of the AANM--"Coming to America" and "Living in America"--and uses objects, displays, and aesthetics from these exhibits to explain how minor pedagogical moves by the museum enable visitors to learn about America through collective expressions of difference. After contextualizing the AANM as a pedagogical space within theories of museums as contested spaces of knowledge, he provides an overview of the Deleuze|Guattari concepts of the minor and major to inform how he perceives instances of minor pedagogies within two of the permanent exhibits of the AANM.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan