Convener: Monica Eileen Patterson


“Collaboration - Exhibition - Research” will explore possibilities for creating more dynamic, democratic, and participatory spaces of public encounter and emergence within and around exhibits—creatively (re)conceived. This approach engages public participants in co-creation and dialogue around locally situated (but potentially trans-locally networked) exhibits, using the special facilities provided by Concordia University’s CEREV digital exhibition laboratory, described below. 

As Cory Kratz has noted, exhibits are “a process, a product, and an event.” As manifestations of representation, experience, and expression, exhibits operate simultaneously in multiple registers. Collaborative, community-engaged curation produces new forms of knowledge, breaking from the “scholar/curator as expert” model to recognize and engage with the expertise that subjects have about themselves. As sites of encounter, exhibits can also be prompts that trigger reflection, discussion, and debate. But the knowledge that exhibits evoke is rarely recognized or recorded by scholars and museum practitioners. How can we better document—as research—what happens in these social spaces? Specifically, how might exhibits—broadly construed—engage with past violence and contemporary injustice to address suffering and inequality in contemporary societies?

A primary goal of this workgroup is to create a community of curators, scholars, activists, practitioners, and community members who can support one another’s efforts in exploring the potential of collaborative exhibits to address historical violence and socioeconomic inequality as a form of new knowledge production.


Our task will be threefold: to collaboratively produce a sourcebook of pertinent curatorial examples, to workshop one another’s (potential) exhibit projects, and to build a lasting community whose members will continue to collaborate and engage with one another in the years to come.

The workgroup will begin before Encuentro convenes with online introductions, sharing of resources, and precirculation of 5-7 page project descriptions. We will meet as a workgroup for all normal meeting times. During the first two days of meetings, at the CEREV lab, each participant will present 1-3 examples of existing curatorial projects instructive in thinking about the possibilities and potential pitfalls of doing collaborative curation. These contributions will be assembled in a shared digital “sourcebook” for collective use. Presentations should include audio-visuals, and may also be presented as a collaboratively curated installation in the lab space itself.

Throughout the rest of the workgroup, participants will workshop their projects in the large group, and in consultation with CEREV’s technology director, Lex Milton. During Encuentro, participants may also wish to begin producing digital components and even partial installations or experimental test-runs of exhibit components for feedback and review by group members, to be vetted on the last day. Attendance is mandatory for all scheduled sessions.

After Encuentro, participants will be invited to contribute to a collaborative blog entry to appear on the CEREV website to document the workgroup experience.


Scholars, curators, activists, and community members interested in forming a supportive network to foment curatorial experimentation and collaboration as a site of new knowledge production are invited to submit 1-page project proposals outlining an idea or plan for a civically-engaged, research-oriented, collaborative exhibit. Applicants must be committed to enlarging the domain of knowledge production to incorporate rarely heard voices into academic research and scholarship.

Please upload a 1-page project proposal describing your collaborative exhibit plan that explicitly addresses the ways in which it will function as a form of research and new knowledge production. Exhibit proposals may be real or imagined, and proposed exhibits or interventions at establishment museums, community sites, public spaces, or online. Also submit a CV and 1-paragraph biography of relevant experience. Materials should be uploaded via the online application form before October 9th, 2013.

This working group will be limited to 12-15 participants.

Convener Biography:

Monica Eileen Patterson is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow based at the Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence (CEREV) in the Department of History at Concordia and beginning in Fall 2014 will be Assistant Professor in Child Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She received her doctorate in Anthropology and History and an additional certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Michigan. She has curated three exhibits based on her research on childhood in apartheid South Africa and is currently developing a fourth that allows former and current South African children to reflect on their experiences of childhood and explore the meanings of the apartheid past and its present-day legacies. Dr. Patterson is coeditor of Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (Palgrave, 2011) and Anthrohistory: Unsettling Knowledge, Questioning Discipline (University of Michigan Press, 2011). As a curator, scholar, and activist, she is particularly interested in the intersections of memory, childhood, and violence in postcolonial Africa, and the ways in which they are represented and engaged in contemporary public spheres.

A Note on the Host Institution:

The Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence (CEREV) at Concordia University was founded to forge new ground in scholarly and public understandings of the aftermath of mass violence. A one-of-a-kind laboratory workshop focused on the development of exhibits based on ethnographic fieldwork and cultural and historical scholarship specifically addressing violence and its aftermath, CEREV also functions as a collaborative hub bringing scholars, curators, and community members together to creatively reimagine what exhibits can be. (Read more about CEREV here:

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