Mediation (the sequel)

Where were we? Ah yes, trying to explain why I have chosen mediation as my translation for formidling. And finding, after several failed attempts at closing the deal and pinning down, in one neat follow-up blogpost, everything that needed saying about mediation at this point, that in my quest for clarity I had overcomplicated matters. So here’s trying to put it simply.

I realise that I was getting lost in the possible translations of a term that is in itself unstable. Indeed, as Gudiksen (2005) points out, the ambiguity and versatility of the term formidling is what makes it so useful: “Begrebet er brugbart, fordi det formår at favne en række komplekse problemstillinger vedrørende fx viden, læring, dannelse, kommunikation […] Begrebsanalytisk betragtet er formidlingsbegrebet således også særdeles komplekst og kan rummes og formuleres i relation til flere forskellige vidensformer og udspringe af og repræsentere mange forskellige interesser.”

So rather than looking for the right translation or arguing why I preferred one over another, the point in choosing ‘mediation’ is that it is also a focus on the aspect of ‘formidling’ that I want to explore, i.e. the aspect that Gudiksen (ibid.) describes as exchange and interpretation (“formidling som udveksling og tolkning af betydning“).

ICOM states, in Key Concepts of Museology, that “it is through the mediation of its culture that individuals perceive and understand the world and their own identity“, and later on explains how mediation may “favour the sharing of experiences and social interactions between visitors“, perhaps by means of diverse technologies, as an educational communication strategy to facilitate such understandings in the audience.

And this is what I wish to explore – not distribution or dissemination of pre-existing knowledge, but how mediated interactions, two-way dialogues, between museums and users may serve to bring about new knowledge and enhance the experience and understanding of cultural heritage for both parties.

So mediation it is. And as I’m closing the subject for now on the blog, I can also see an opening for an interesting discussion on the topic in my actual thesis. Maybe this is where I’ll start writing for real…

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