Call for Papers – Mobilising Museum Minerals: Critical Approaches to Mineralogical Collections

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Call for Papers – Mobilising Museum Minerals: Critical Approaches to Mineralogical Collections

Museum and Society – July 2024

Deadline: 15 May 2023

Despite their continuing popularity in museums, mineral collections are notably absent in decolonial and environmental museum scholarship. The often-violent stories of extraction and colonial relations inherent in mined specimens continue to be overlooked in museum communications and museological research. This special issue of Museum & Society highlights current critical approaches to the collection, display, and engagement of mineralogical specimens in museums while expanding understandings of their transformative potential in an era of rising ecological injustice. We seek a broad range of work on ‘mineralogical collections’, recognizing that, in many instances, these are intertwined with other collections (such as geological specimens), or are part of larger institutions (such as natural history museums). We thus welcome contributions that engage with minerals within such larger systems.

Our interest in the collections, exhibitions, and other museological practices related to minerals is guided by the following questions:

  • How can the histories of mineral collections and displays contribute to contemporary understandings of museums as technologies of empire and extraction?
  • What critical frameworks and best practices animate the current conservation, exhibition, and interpretation of gems, rocks, and minerals in museums around the world?
  • How might museums turn to existing mineral collections to advance decolonial museology, sustainable practices, and community collaborations?
  • How can we mobilise knowledge of minerals from scholars, practitioners, and activists to empower visitors to understand the connections between collections, colonial histories, inequity, global industrialisation and labor issues, and climate injustice?

We encourage submissions on any of the following topics:

  • Critical histories of mineralogical collections, including those in and from the Global South
  • Indigenous epistemologies for understanding mineralogical collections
  • Feminist technoscience approaches to mineralogy
  • The economic and colonial trajectories (including of acquisition and conservation) of museum minerals
  • The in/visibility of labor and environmental consequences of mineralogical collecting
  • Public/community engagement on mineralogy in museums
  • The mobilisation of mineralogical collections toward decolonial and environmental praxis in museums
  • Creative responses to, from, or within mineralogical collections and exhibitions
  • Critical approaches to mineral curation (including design and display) in museums

In order to bridge museum studies and museum practice, we welcome any article format accepted by the journal (scholarly manuscripts, exhibition reviews, book reviews, viewpoints, and object biographies; for details on these formats, please see the submission guidelines).

Submission guide:

Interested authors should submit an abstract of 500 words and a short (150 words) biography to the guest editors (eleanor.armstrong [at] and [at] by May 15th, 2023. Tentatively accepted authors will be notified by June 15, 2023, and complete first drafts are expected by October 15, 2023. Publication of the issue is anticipated July 2024.

Feature Image: “mineral rainbow – gem collection – Smithsonian Natural History Museum” by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
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