Speakers: Dr Serena Lervolino, Lecturer in Arts & Cultural Management, King’s College London and Dr. Domenico Sergi, Senior Curator, Museum of London

Class differences and issues of economic inequalities have received limited attention in both museum theory and practice. Scholarly publications on issues of class in the museum and heritage sector are still scarce. This neglect has occurred even when publicly-funded museums in the UK have been compelled by both policy-makers and critics to overturn their elitist tendencies and attract wider and more diverse audiences, including previously marginalised groups.

COVID-19 has shone a harsh light on class divisions. At the height of the pandemic, working-class labourers were asked to shoulder the highest level of health risks, exposing entrenched socioeconomic inequities. This situation brought attention to the centrality of class differences in our contemporary neoliberal societies and the need to readdress their meagre treatment in museums and galleries.

In this session we discuss a small-scale research and collecting project, ‘Inequalities, Class and the Pandemic’ (2021-22), collaboratively carried out by the Museum of London and King’s College London, to question how museums can more meaningfully engage with working-class lived experiences. We share the voices and experiences of our research participants, all ‘essential workers’ in low-paid, low-skilled, working-class jobs such as supermarket workers, cleaners, carers, bartenders, teaching assistants and food delivery couriers. We draw on their lived experiences of the pandemic to critically reflect on the ongoing structural inequalities confronted by working-class Londoners and reflect on the important role that economic disadvantage and class differences play in 21st century Britain. Building on these, we explore how museums can play an active role in re-claiming the centrality of class in public culture and policy debates around issues of diversity and inequality.

May 11 @ 11:00
11:00 — 11:40 (40′)

Theatre 1


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