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Article Title

Museums Narrating the Nation: Case Studies from Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Abstract

A museum that represents a community’s history and culture has the ability to influence the way that visitors understand that community in the present. In this paper, museums in Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina are examined as case studies in order to better understand how museums attempt to narrate national identity to visitors, both domestic and international. Critical analysis of exhibits in these museums reveal that museum narratives often attempt to project the image of singular national identities. Meanwhile, they may deny the history of place of other contemporary or historic communities that are held in disfavor by those who influence the development of exhibits. In Greece, museums project a ‘Greek’ identity based on Classical, Byzantine, and post-Ottoman history. Museums in Bosnia-Herzegovina emphasize a unifying, shared history of the state’s three main ethnic communities without recognizing the profound differences felt between these communities today. Thus, these institutions may be seen as attempts at encouraging visitors to imagine the nation in one way only, without recognizing pluralism. While these case studies do not necessarily represent a universal trend, they demonstrate the need to reflect upon the place of such museums in contemporary society.

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