The Politics Of Representation English Literature Essay

Museums throughout the universe are at a point of reclamation. The thrust behind the displacement is clear: they are non merely establishments for active acquisition or enjoyment, but are now besides recognised as a topographic point where different narratives are represented through many signifiers of communicating. The assorted persons and groups that seek the power to act upon these narratives have been of much argument in recent old ages, as Karp ( 1990 ) asserted, ‘the battle is non merely over what is to be represented, but over who will command the agencies of stand foring. ‘ Hence, by utilizing the museum as a medium we can see how infinite can be used to bring forth different cultural values and significances. This can be considered by foremost, concentrating on the definition of ‘the political relations of representation ‘ by pulling on relevant literature and associating it to the Anne Frank Museum. Second, by concentrating on the many organic structures that influenced the museum experience, peculiarly the museum conservators and Otto Frank and besides the external bureaus that sought the power to act upon the original Anne Frank narrative. This will be done through how the edifice, the journal, the usage of infinite and the objects affected my ain personal experience and observations through the Anne Frank Museum ( AFM ) .

Politicss of Representation

The ‘Politics of Representation ‘ is best defined when interrupt down into two parts. The first portion ‘politics ‘ is defined in many ways, due to the really subjective nature of the construct of political relations. Chilton and Schaffner ( 2002: 5 ) define political relations,

‘ … as a battle for power, between those who seek to asseverate and keep their power and those who seek to defy it. ‘

This definition highlights the power battle as the cardinal nature of political relations ; how it is exercised and allocated. Politicss is relational, it is concerned with the interaction between persons and groups and the power dealingss that exist between them ( Wenden 2005: 2 ) . In Foucault ‘s ‘Discourse Theory ‘ it is highlighted that power circulates and is negotiated through discourse, in other words, it is produced by linguistic communication. However, discourse can besides be the focal point of battle ; the battle for the power to act upon a narrative or thought. ( Hall, 1997: 43 )

The 2nd portion ‘Representation ‘ is best defined as,

‘ … a set of practises by which significances are constituted and communicated. Such representational practises produce and circulate significances among members of societal groups and these significances can be defined as civilization. ‘ ( Smith and Godlewska, 1994 ) .

If, as Foucault suggests, linguistic communication is cardinal to the procedure by which significance is produced and civilization is infused in these procedures, it must act upon how narratives are told in museums ( Hall 1997: 2 ) . Thompson ( 1997: 4 ) emphasised how ‘meanings regulate and organise our behavior and patterns. ‘ Therefore, for those persons and groups who want to regulate behavior, or in this peculiar instance, represent narratives or thoughts, they must make significance ( Hall 1997:2 ) . Of class manners of representation will change depending on the position from which they are constructed. Different political orientations and beliefs will besides act upon the mode in which groups represent affairs of peculiar importance or relevancy and can do competition among groups when it comes to being considered as the correct, appropriate or preferable representation ( Wenden 2005:2 ) .

It is this competition over intending amongst differing groups, referred to as the ‘politics of representation ‘ that can be practiced through the usage of linguistic communication. We can pull on Marshall McLuhan ‘s discourse ‘the medium is the message ‘ by utilizing museum as the medium, as exhibitions can besides be thought of as ‘a linguistic communication ‘ as it uses objects on show to bring forth or act upon certain significances about the capable affair ( McLuhan, 1967: 8 ) in this instance, the original Anne Frank narrative.

The construct of a museum as an educational establishment has been altering in the latter half of the twentieth century. The museum is in the procedure of switching from a topographic point that produces cognition instead than promotes knowledge ( van Aalst, 2002:1 ) . Hooper-Greenville references how the museum edifices has become designed for the objects they ‘imprison ‘ instead than for the populace that visits them ( Lumley, 1988:9 ) This consciousness by the populace that has brought the ‘politics of representation ‘ into inquiry.

Anne Frank Museum

During our visit to the AFM in Amsterdam we were to detect and analyze the procedure of and political relations of representation, as they are manifested in the museum. I would wish to concentrate on different groups and their power to act upon the stating the Anne Frank narrative, hence how the political relations of representation influences what we see in this museum.

As the rubric of the museum usher brochure suggests, the Anne Frank Museum is ‘A Museum with a Story ‘ : the narrative of a immature Judaic miss during the Second World War in Amsterdam. The narrative is told through a diary that Anne Frank kept during the clip in concealment and was found in the house where the Frank household had lived whilst in isolation from the German Nazi ‘s in the 1940 ‘s ( Frank 1997 ) . The narrative is being told as a alone illustration of the mass agony that 1000000s endured during the Second World War. It is something that wants to be avoided in the hereafter.

The Building

Standing outside the Museum I noticed how Anne Frank ‘s house blended into the surrounding edifices, it was really hard to distinguish the house from others on the street. I realised how easy it would be to walk past this edifice without detecting anything different. This was effectual as it transported me back to the clip when Anne Frank lived at that place, when the Germans would ‘ve walked past without any intuition, as I did now. It was about as if I were animating history.

A important manner in which the power of influence over the Anne Frank narrative is noted is through the original edifice. As Hooperfield-Greenhill ( 1994: 84 ) mentioned, a museums edifices and evidences affect the museum experience. Prinsengracht 263 is a really old edifice and has a particular historical significance as it tells the visitant about the Anne Frank narrative. Otto was portion of a squad that created the Anne Frank Foundation in order to reconstruct the edifice as it was in awful status and under menace of being demolished by the Berghaus Textile Factory ( Enzer & A ; Solotaroff-Enzer 2000:224 ) . Otto fought to maintain the original location, as any other Reconstruction would non hold been reliable or helped to state the narrative as efficaciously. The traditional edifice does non take away from the narrative being told, in fact it adds greatly to the narrative as it was what kept Anne Frank alive for so long therefore Otto wanted the edifice to stay in order to maintain her memory alive for longer. Besides the journal, the house was the lone ownership left that physically tied Otto to his yesteryear. However, had Otto chosen to construct a new Museum, for illustration, a modern edifice like the recent Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao ( Rampley 2005:103 ) it would hold dramatically affected the visitants experience ; as critic Walter Benjamin ( Williams 2005: 103 ) asserted, it is more likely that we would ‘ve oppugn it in a ‘state of distraction ‘ whereas we ‘consumed the traditional edifice with due attending ‘ . This illustrates neatly the power struggles between the Anne Frank Foundation, the Berghaus Textile Factory and Otto who finally decided the location of this Museum as it is one of the few ways by which the Jewish agony in Holland is represented materially, hence it is of great societal significance. ( Williams 2005:104 )

The Diary

At the terminal of the exhibition the journal was displayed in the Centre of the room in a glass instance. The room besides had shows of some of Anne ‘s notes and different editions of her books all published in different linguistic communications. Many re-drafted notes were shown, as Anne Frank had wanted her diary to be turned into a book after the war. This show was reliable as the journal was located where the whole narrative had unravelled.

Sing the Anne Frank Museum is founded on the diary it is a important manner to act upon what narrative is being told. There have been assorted editions of the Anne Frank Diary: many of which have been altered by publishing houses and by her Father, Otto Frank. Publishers suggested to Otto to cut out certain Hagiographas about Anne Frank, which some audiences may non hold approved of ( Enzer & A ; Solotaroff-Enzer 2000:2 ) . The re-edited diary high spots the fact that it had been re ( presented ) from a different angle, perchance one that would conform to the mass bulk position of what a 15 twelvemonth old miss should be like, hence framed for audience ingestion. The power to stand for the journal in this manner has caused much review as it has been changed throughout its life. For illustration, before the release of its 6th edition in 1950 Otto cut out many transitions he deemed excessively personal and had assigned anonym to protect some individualities let alone his ain ( Enzer & A ; Solotaroff-Enzer 2000:2 ) .The publishing houses and Otto have had the power to animate history ; the information made available to the spectator has been selective. Otto may hold altered the journal to stand for the household in a certain manner. However, by excluding the parts from the original he may hold taken off from the overall experience of the read. Not merely this, but Anne Frank herself re-drafted diary entries after she found out that the Dutch Government were trusting to roll up oculus witness histories of the agony of the Dutch under the Germans. It is possible that she altered the journal or wrote otherwise which would ensue in a different representation of the journal. The power to act upon the diary entirely straight alters the person ‘s response of the Anne Frank narrative in the museum.

The Use of Space

The path taken through the AFM as constructed so as to take the visitant through the suites of the Frank Family home- in what happened to be a chronological experience. It was as if you were traveling, like Anne, into concealing yourself, you started at the warehouse and so into the Annex. This made me conceive of how cramped it must hold been. It so became clear to me that the lone thing that separated me from Anne ‘s experience at this point was clip, non infinite. Throughout the path there were quotation marks on the wall, which gave the semblance that Anne was your tour usher, taking the manner and stating her narrative, about as if she had constructed it herself. Exiting the dark, quiet Annex I walked through a crossing from the Annex to the edifice following door and was met with a metal, unfertile floor and fluorescent visible radiations. I felt as though I was traveling from a private, confined infinite to a really public, unfastened infinite. I felt somewhat diffident and exposed as I walked through the room which showed pictures of the result of the Frank household in the Annex, and besides of the other people who experienced the same destiny as Anne. The bright room took me from a personal unhappiness to something much bigger, as I realised the graduated table of this hurting was more than I could hold imagined.

An of import manner in which influence over the Anne Frank narrative was sought was through the usage of infinite. The fact that the path was already constructed for the visitant leads you to oppugn why the visitant does non hold limitless entree to all countries of the museum. Following a stiff path merely allows the visitant to construe this portion of history in a certain manner, a manner in which person else thought most effectual for them to see ( Karp 1990:12 ) The representation of the narrative through the usage of infinite has been influenced by the cultural premises and resources of the conservators who constructed it ( Karp 1990: 13 ) . The fact that the path was structured, allowed the visitant to prosecute more with Anne ‘s narrative and possibly overrule their ain cultural distance ( Hooper-Greenhill 1994 ) . However, the manner in which the narrative was told may non hold been how Anne would hold told it, had she survived. The conservators hence had to construe how they think Anne would ‘ve wanted it which would change the narrative being told before they have even represented it to the populace.

The quotation marks on the wall throughout the path reinforce the thought that Anne Frank is present and is stating her ain personal narrative. However, it is the conservators stating the narrative. This is similar to the JFK Museum in Boston, where his ain words are used to state his narrative besides. The conservators have the power to act upon the narrative by pull stringsing the usage of infinite and the ability to animate Anne ‘s presence in the museum, when it is non physically at that place.

The Objects

There were few objects in the museum and the objects that were on show were selective, from post cards to pencil markers. Each was placed in a clear, good illuminated glass box at chest tallness on the walls. I found myself desiring to analyze all of the objects on show, and running my custodies along the walls as I walked through, I had a yearning to be connected to that clip and this was the lone sense that had non been met. The deficiency of furniture at first took me by surprise, nevertheless, there were plaques on the wall depicting the room and demoing images of what it looked like, I felt that the Annex became my ain personal experience as I had to conceive of what it would be like, I had to animate the usage of the infinite internally and this impersonalised my experience.

The selected points displayed in the Anne Frank Museum were one farther component in the scope of ways of stating the original Anne Frank narrative. The objects were chosen by the conservators to act upon our perceptual experience of the country. We would wish to believe that museums are wholly nonsubjective stand foring a ‘definitive ‘ record of historical events but this is non the instance. The museum conservators have the power to act upon precisely what the visitant can and can non see, hence assisting to build thoughts about the object or exhibit. By merely exposing a few, the museum had encouraged the visitant to look at the object in a certain manner, therefore made it in to an object of ocular involvement ( Karp and Lavine, 1990: 25 ) . Museum conservators have the ability to straight impact our experience as they can enforce their ain alone significance on the universe, their ain beliefs. For illustration, the labels that accompanied the show boxes did non depict the object, alternatively it described the conservators believing about the object, or that portion of their thought that he/she felt it to be their intent to pass on to the spectator ( Hooper-Greenhill, 1994: 115 ) . As Rampley ( 2005:7 ) high spots, the political orientation of power, both political and academic, engaged in both the collection of objects and the systematic method of telling them consequences in exhibition conservators being in a place to hold the power to act upon our thoughts non merely on objects, but besides the civilization in which the object is derived from.


Having visited the AFM and examined the political relations of representation I have identified the scope of ways the power of influence of persons and groups has altered the Anne Frank narrative. It is clear throughout that there are many organic structures that influenced the museum experience ; from museum conservators to Otto Frank, to the external bureaus who all wanted the power to influence. Despite the competition between groups and persons in stand foring the narrative being told, the museum successfully shows Anne ‘s stalking experience as I came off sympathizing with her unfortunate fortunes. However, I believe that there is besides a cosmopolitan narrative of human enduring being told in this museum and that Anne Frank ‘s narrative is used as an illustration to stand for this. Once the visitant has engaged with Anne ‘s narrative, so it is possible for the museum to convey a bigger image and work towards forestalling this occurrence in the hereafter, which is the ultimate intent of the Anne Frank narrative.


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