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The Australian National University

Museums in Focus

About the series

Rebelmuse_RoutledgeRoutledge Museums In Focus is a short-format book series that challenges authors and readers to experiment with, innovate, and provoke museums and the intellectual frameworks through which we view these. It offers a platform for approaches that radically rethink the relationships between cultural and intellectual dissent and crisis and debates about museums, politics and the broader public sphere. Titles forthcoming in 2017 include The Disobedient Museum, Curatorial Activism, and Museums and Racism

Committed to the articulation of big, even risky, ideas in small format publications, Museums In Focus is motivated by the intellectual hypothesis that museums are not innately ‘useful’, safe’ or even ‘public’ places, and that recalibrating our thinking about them might benefit from adopting a more radical and oppositional form of logic and approach. Examining this problem requires a level of comfort with (or at least tolerance of) the idea of crisis, dissent, protest and radical thinking, and authors might benefit from considering how cultural and intellectual crisis, regeneration and anxiety have been dealt with in other disciplines and contexts.

Books published in the series are to 30,000 words in length and fully refereed. In addition to providing timely, intellectually agile cutting edge responses to topical socio-cultural and political challenges, the small books will exist themselves as collectible objects as well as in online form. Of interest to those seeking to write something longer than a journal article but shorter than a monograph, the books will attest to the contribution that museums and collections-based research make to the intellectual history of the late twentieth century at the same time as they will encourage and engage with new conceptual or methodological approaches toward complex problems embodied, reflected, or caused by museums.

Advance Praise

This is a strikingly original proposal for a fresh new series of short works in museum studies.

Associate Professor Conal McCarthy,
Victoria University of Wellington.

Despite the hunger to tackle this emerging topic, there are still few ways to explore museum dissent and disobedience using a critical framework. The occupation of museums by advocacy groups, invisible museum agendas and issues of institutional racism are emotive and compelling subjects. While these subjects are highly visible in the museum space they are still difficult to discuss and problematise in the classroom as the literature has yet to catch up with several new and rapidly evolving phenomena. I can see this series filling a gap and with this notion of the rapid response I would hope that it would provide a platform for discussing current issues that students are drawn to but which have yet to be framed by the academy.

Dr Emma Martin,
University of Manchester/National Museums Liverpool.

Series Editor

Dr Kylie Message

PhD (UniMelb); BA (Hons) (UniMelb)

Research School of Humanities and the Arts
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Kylie Message is Associate Professor at  the Research School of Humanities and the Arts at the Australian National University.

Publication list and full profile

Submit a proposal

We invite proposals – by writers, scholars, museum professionals, cultural activists and others – for book ideas that:

  • Extend current debates over a particular type of museum, collection, cultural activity, event, product or phenomenon, ethical conundrum, subcultural critique or hacker process, curatorial activism, protest or campaign culture, cultural conflict, or political context, theory or history.
  • Address an urgent disciplinary, methodological, or social problem or conflict involving museums, heritage (place, object-based and intangible, including music), collections, or related subject.
  • Model ways of extending or challenging the museological canon to become ever more agile, responsive, and accountable to the frequently stated claims of social justice and community engagement.
  • Provide innovative approaches toward modelling intellectual critique; these could potentially include graphic novels, co-written and multi-person dialogue pieces, or other alternative formats.

We particularly welcome proposals that investigate how the discourses and experiences of crisis and dissent in cultural, political, and everyday life influence or affect the way we understand museums, heritage, and other forms of cultural phenomena and activism; and invite manuscripts that ask how these themes and others – including identity and collective rights and actions over issues including race, class, disability, gender, and sexuality; challenges to citizenship laws and norms and normative approaches to understanding power, ideology and nationalism – engage with anthropology museums, human rights museums, labour history or union museums, presidential library museums, political history collections, activist art events or interventions, protest art movement and activist interventions (historical or contemporary), ecomuseums, local and community based museums, science-based collections, formations of radical history and archiving, etc., etc.

As short books that aim to present ways of grappling with big challenges or modelling disciplinary or methodological disruption, the writing and commitment to a crisp and clear line of arguing is of the uppermost importance.


  • Download this page as a PDF flyer (450 K).


For further information about the series, submission guidelines, or to discuss a potential proposal, please visit Routledge Museums in Focus.

Contact the series editor at or


Updated: 19 November 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School / Page Contact:  Web Publisher