Cosmopolitics, border crossings and the complex museum

Fiona R. Cameron*, Sarah Mengler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Collections documentation systems are powerful frameworks for organising, producing and controlling cultural knowledge. Drawing on the findings from the Australian Research Council Linkage project Reconceptualising Heritage Collections (University of Western Sydney and Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia) and research undertaken using the museums Palestinian collections through wikis and focus groups with constituencies in Australia, Israel and Palestine, we illustrate the highly political and fluid nature of the meanings and values existent around objects; and how now, in a networked complex world, non-linear interactions are occurring across transnational borders. These interactions sit uneasily with conventional museum practice. The collections became visible mechanisms to confront the complex relations and politics of borders between the museum and everyday life. Cosmopolitics, in terms of its political, ethical, cosmological and transnational outlook along with cultural complexity, enables an exploration of the dynamics and the shifting borders of an emerging complex museum. Ideas for the future imaginary of these interactions are further explored through the pathway of chaos theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-653
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


  • borders
  • chaos theory
  • cosmopolitics
  • material culture
  • museums


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