EVENT Feb 19
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Turin, Italy
Organization: Dept. of Cultures, Politics and Society, University of Turin
Categories: Lingustics
Event Date: 2020-02-19 to 2020-02-21 Abstract Due: 2019-12-21

As civic institutions “in service to society” (ICOM 2007), museums are now going beyond the basic functions of collecting, exhibiting and interpreting cultural heritage, becoming primary agents of social inclusion and cultural change. This leads them to critically reflect upon their practices and seek innovative approaches: what strategies can museums adopt to be more inclusive and equitable organizations? How can museums establish positive relationships with socially disadvantaged people, or with people who are still under-represented in museum audiences? How can they innovate external communication also from the ethical point of view, using both digital and non-digital tools?


The Conference explores the strategic role played by museums in setting forth discursive practices of inclusion, tolerance, social equality, and, consequently, in pursuing ethical objectives also through the language they choose to adopt. While fostering reflection on the actual effectiveness of those textualizing processes favoring inclusiveness, the aim of the Conference is to underscore the linguistic potential of Museum Discourse in its imbrication with human rights discourse and pedagogic discourse. Such an imbrication actualizes the museum as an agent of social change that appears as paramount in the new course of inclusive didactics. 


A museum active in the cultural process through its “communicative actions” presupposes the study of its language and its construction of messages and “discourses”, explicit or hidden, in the displays, exhibitions, practices, community activities. From the perspectives of Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Sociology and Sociolinguistics, Translation Studies, Anthropology and Anthropological Linguistics, as well as Curatorship proper, Museum Discourse will be approached as a process of communication and signification, leading to the construction of relevant social functions. 


Forging closer connections, and developing greater mutual understanding between scholars and practitioners, can serve to strengthen both academic research and museum practice. Museum Discourse research can be applied to help shape museum practice, as results can be fed back in the form of recommendations to practitioners; vice versa, museum professionals can provide scholars with valuable insights into their practices, presenting case studies and relevant examples of written, oral, non-verbal and digital communication taking place in museum settings. As practicing members of the museum discourse community, professionals serve as ‘specialist informants’ (Bhatia, 1993) to be consulted in order to gain access to data and provide feedback on research.


Scholars, experts and practitioners in the museum field are invited to submit proposals.






Conference themes include:


1.                        Museum inclusive textuality (e.g. fact-sheets, publications, web documents and blogs, social media, mission statements, press releases)

2.                        Museum involvement with children and teenagers (including those with special needs)

3.                        Museum involvement with refugees and asylum seekers

4.                        Museums addressing, more or less directly, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia

5.                        The role of story-telling

6.                        Cognitive and pedagogic implications

7.                        Synergy of verbal and visual grammar in the construction of inclusive communication

8.                        Museums actively seeking the construction of interculturality through several disciplines (science, art history, performance, politics, ecology, history and literature, language studies, etc.)


The Conference is organized by Federico Sabatini and Cecilia Lazzeretti within the framework of the Italian Research Project “Museum Discourse: Towards Social Inclusiveness” (2018-2020) promoted by Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, University of Turin, and financed by Compagnia San Paolo.



Submission Guidelines


Submissions are to be received by 21 December 2019 and should be directed to:


federico.sabatini@unito.it and cecilia.lazzeretti@unito.it


For all submissions, please clearly indicate:

- Abstract title, author names, and full institutional affiliations of the responsible (presenting)

author and collaborating authors.

- Contact e-mail address and phone number for the responsible author.

- One or two conference themes.

Abstracts are expected to be no more than 250 words. Oral presentations will typically be scheduled in 90-minute sessions, with 30 minutes (20 min. presentation + 10 min. discussion) allocated to each individual presentation.


Proposals will be reviewed on the basis of the following criteria:

- relevance of the topic to the conference theme;

- background contextualisation of the study;

- relationship between title and content, structural organisation;

- theoretical/methodological appropriateness;

- clarity and originality of claims/findings.


All proposals will undergo a double blind peer-review process.


The deadline for submission is December 21, 2019.


Decisions about acceptance will be communicated by December 31, 2019.


Following formal acceptance, the responsible (presenting) authors must register for the conference prior to the finalisation of the conference programme.


Cecilia Lazzeretti