Book Review By Robert Sullivan

In reading Tony Bennett’s Pasts Beyond Memory: Evolution, Museums, Colonialism (2004), it is hard to believe that less than decade ago this profession was lamenting the “blanket of critical silence” and lack of “any rigorous form of critical analysis” for museums or museum history. Now we seem awash in it, as both academics and museum practitioners have rushed in to fill the intellectual void. Museums, especially natural history museums, are the last of the Victorian, modernist, institutions to be deconstructed by post-structuralist theory. Bennett in both his previous volume, The Birth of the Museum, and in this more recent book attempts to do just that, consorting with the usual post-modern theoretical suspects; Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, and Pierre Bourdieu. (more…)