In his book A different mirror: a history of multicultural America, Professor
Ronald Takaki challenges the Master Narrative of American History, the “powerful and
popular but inaccurate story” declaring that “our country was settled by European
immigrants, and Americans are white.” In his work, Professor Takaki highlighted the hopes
and struggles of immigrant men and women working and living in America, dispelling the
many negative stereotypes marginalized as the “Other.”
Objective: The goal of this assignment is to identify how the official history is represented in
repositories of human civilization, spaces that are also known as museums. Pay particular
attention to the spatial management of the exhibit, the order in which the artifacts are
displayed, and how they present the participation of certain groups of individuals in the
official history. Your paper should be typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman size 12.
For this assignment, please read the following pieces. These articles will provide you with the
necessary context to execute this particular assignment.
Golding, Viv. Learning at the museum frontiers: identity, race, and power, Introduction.
Trofanenko, Brenda. “Displayed objects, Indigenous identities, and public pedagogy.”
Anthropology and Education, Vol 37, No. 4, 2006, pp. 309-327.
Instructions for Writing the Final paper: As you begin to write your final paper, please
reflect on what you observed in the exhibit and compose a 4-6-page paper that summarizes,
critiques and applies the exhibit to the overarching theme of the course, the Master Narrative
of American History. Does the exhibit challenge this notion, or does it affirm it? Further,
please address the following questions in your essay.
1. Primary theme and subthemes of the exhibit: What information is the exhibit
attempting to convey? What kind of story is being presented?
2. How was the use of space representative of the exhibit?
3. What is so particular about the order of the artifacts being displayed?
4. How are historically disadvantaged groups represented in the exhibit?Chicana/o Studies 245 Fall 2014 Final Essay Assignment
5. How are identities, i. e., ethnicity, gender, sexuality addressed in the exhibit?
6. How is the exhibit presenting these different intersections, if at all?
7. Multimedia tools: are there any videos/films, digitalized diagrams, maps, computer
kiosks incorporated into the exhibit?
8. If you had the opportunity to talk to the curator of the exhibit, what questions would
you ask him/her?
Please choose a museum for your analysis from the following list.
Autry National Center
Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County
Museum of Latin American Art
Museum of Contemporary Art
Mexican Cultural Institute
Los Angeles Country Museum of Art
California African American Museum
Japanese American National Museum
El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Heritage Square Museum
Southwest Museum of American Indian
Chinese American Museum
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