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Title: Community museums as potential instruments for social change and sustainable development in rural Mexico
Author: Lesher Trevino, Ana Cristina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 0973
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2015
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Ecomuseums are innovative institutions in which new museological systems are used to conserve and interpret the tangible and intangible heritage of a defined geographical area and its corresponding community. Ecomuseums have a strong interest in public participation, in terms of both creation and subsequent development. Such institutions aim to establish an enduring dialogue between staff and community members and to influence positively the social and economic development of the locality. This research focuses on two ecomuseums in rural communities in Mexico. I analyse the impact of both museums on their communities in terms of social improvement within statutes of sustainability. I look at their value in enabling environmental and cultural conservation; and I examine the various communication processes linking outside “experts” and community members. The two museums tell markedly contrasting stories and show different processes of creation and community appropriation. The museum of San Juan Raya, located in a desert community in central Mexico, is a success story where an outside initiative was transformed into a beneficial community project largely run by local people. On the other hand the museum of Frontera Corozal, in the tropical jungle of southern Mexico, developed in a complex and fraught historic-political background, shows a much more problematic identity and no management continuity. My research draws the conclusion that, assuming appropriate communication processes are established, ecomuseums have the ability to help to empower rural communities, to promote social change, and to implement successful techniques of conservation and management of natural resources. Although these two museums are of interest in themselves, this research considers and finds meaning in their different trajectories. The results of this evaluation are relevant to other worldwide communities setting up equivalent institutions, and may facilitate the understanding and development of community museums.
Supervisor: Mellor, Felicity ; Webster, Stephen Sponsor: Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (Mexico) ; Secretaría de Educación Pública (Mexico)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral