‘Museum Across Borders’: Dr. Cangbai Wang’s inaugural talk launched the ‘Diasporic Chinese Museums Network Initiative’ Public Talk Series
Project research assistant and postgraduate student in MA Creative Writing: Writing the City, University of Westminster
The much-anticipated inaugural talk, titled ‘Museum across borders: Toward a dialogical approach to museum representations of Chinese diasporas around the world’, was held online on the 22nd of August, 2023 at 12:00 pm (BST). This enlightening event marked the launch of the ‘Diasporic Chinese museums network initiative‘ public talk series, a collaborative effort between HOMELandS (Hub On Migration, Exiles, Languages and Spaces) at the University of Westminster, UK, and the Chinese Heritage Centre of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, a testament to the global nature of this research endeavour.
Kicked off by Associate Professor Yow Cheun Hoe from the Chinese Heritage Centre at Nanyang Technological University, the event was inaugurated with a warm introduction to the keynote speaker, Dr. Cangbai Wang from the University of Westminster. Dr. Wang, at the helm of the AHRC ‘Global Diasporic Chinese Museums Network Initiative’, shared insights into the ambitious project that aims to create a global network of diasporic Chinese museums, fostering intellectual dialogues and collaborations that transcend geographical and national boundaries. Covering both domestic and global representations, Dr. Wang presented a comprehensive overview of the project, unveiling its objectives, key activities, beneficiaries, and anticipated outcomes. He also elucidated the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the research, emphasising the transformative power of their practices. The audience was also granted a glimpse into the upcoming talks in the following months, creating a sense of anticipation and continuity.
A pivotal networking element was introduced through a bilingual website, purpose-built for the project. The site serves as a central hub for all project-related news, encouraging constructive feedback and interaction among the global audience. Inclusivity and equality took centre stage throughout the talk and underpin the development of the website, reflecting the underlying agenda to create a space where diverse voices and perspectives can converge.
Language barriers were ingeniously dismantled as the talk, stretching over a span of two hours, was conducted in English, accompanied by real-time interpretation and translation into Mandarin Chinese. It fosters inclusivity and engagement on an international scale, as evidenced by the participation of approximately 90 attendees from across the globe.
The interactive Q&A session exemplified the event’s commitment to dialogue. Participants posed thought-provoking questions, which were met with thoughtful responses from Dr. Wang, assisted by Associate Professor Yow Cheun Hoe. The discussions touched on the dynamic relationship between the past and the future, challenging the notion of museum as either a prison of the past or a forum for future debates. As the inaugural talk came to a close at 1:45 pm, the participants were left with a renewed appreciation for the importance of museum representations in shaping our understanding of the Chinese diasporas’ multifaceted stories.
In a nutshell, the inaugural talk and launch event served as an invigorating exploration of the nuanced narratives within Chinese diasporas, as showcased through the lens of dialogical museum representations. The collaborative effort between research institutions and between academics and museum professionals, the bilingual engagement platform, and the global participation underscored the event’s role as a catalyst for meaningful discussions in the realm of diasporic cultural heritage.