Reconsiders complex questions about how we imagine ourselves and our political communities
In Curating Community: Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political, Stacy Douglas challenges the centrality of sovereignty in our political and juridical imaginations. Creatively bringing together constitutional, political, and aesthetic theory, Douglas argues that museums and constitutions invite visitors to identify with a prescribed set of political constituencies based on national, ethnic, or anthropocentric premises. In both cases, these stable categories gloss over the radical messiness of the world and ask us to conflate representation with democracy. Yet the museum, when paired with the constitution, can also serve as a resource in the production of alternative imaginations of community. Consequently, Douglas’s key contribution is the articulation of a theory of counter-monumental constitutionalism, using the museum, that seeks to move beyond individual and collective forms of sovereignty that have dominated postcolonial and postapartheid theories of law and commemoration. She insists on the need to reconsider deep questions about how we conceptualize the limits of ourselves, as well as our political communities, in order to attend to everyday questions of justice in the courtroom, the museum, and beyond.
Curating Community is a book for academics, artists, curators, and constitutional designers interested in legacies of violence, transitional justice, and democracy.
Stacy Douglas is Assistant Professor of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa.
“Curating Community makes a really significant and exciting contribution to existing literatures. Douglas is at her best when engaging in critiques of other thinkers such as Christodoulidis and Cornell. The unexpected link that Douglas makes between constitutions and museums is critically important because it directly links law and culture in ways that are not usually noted or thought about, but which have vital effects on our political and aesthetic lives.”
—James Martel, San Francisco State University
“Reading museums alongside and against constitutional thinking, Douglas brilliantly exposes the problem of political sovereignty and the possibilities for rethinking political community. A thoughtful and inspired work.”
—Davina Cooper, University of Kent
“Douglas has put forward an interesting and compelling argument drawing on various theorists and perspectives. Given the current social and political climate worldwide, her insistence on the disruption of the idea of community and thinking of justice as the exposure of the truth of infinite sharing is timeous and crucial, a call that should be heeded.”
—Karin van Marle, University of Pretoria