Foucault and the Museum

Hetherington, Kevin (2015). Foucault and the Museum. In: Witcomb, Andrea and Message, Kylie eds. The International Handbooks of Museum Studies: Museum Theory, Volume 4. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, pp. 21–40.


This chapter looks at the work of Philosopher Michel Foucault and his influence on museum studies. It identifies two distinct approach in museum studies that draw on his work focusing on i0 issues of museum discourse and episteme associated with his early work and ii) on governmentality in his later work that have shaped debates in the museum studies work and highlights the contribution in each area. The chapter critiques those approaches goes on to offer an interpretation of Foucault's more neglected "middle-phase" work and sees this as offering a third, alternative and more fruitful approach to the study of museums focused on issues of archive practice, heterotopia and the complex arrangement between discursive and non-discursive practices.

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