Judith Dehail

Professor of cultural mediation of the arts, Aix-Marseille University - AMU Fellow
Period of residence: 
September 2022 - February 2023
Research project: 
REMED – Mediation of minority narratives at the museum
Summary of the research project: 

The REMED project aims to explore innovative perspectives for thinking about the place of minority narratives in the museum based on a cross-cutting approach to the museum institution, questioning the barriers between conservation, curation, cultural mediation and audiences in order to propose new forms of collaboration and engagement. It is indeed a question of postulating that the strict separation operating, in most large museum institutions, between curatorial work on the one hand and work of mediation on the other drastically limits the exploration of the potentialities of the future of the museum space in connection with the redefinition of its societal role. It deprives the construction of exhibitions of collaborations, often long-term, by mediation teams with the public and non-public. It also freezes visitors in a posture of passive reception, from which it is impossible for them to take part in the elaboration of knowledge or its potential redefinition. It seems important, even urgent, to question this structuring and to identify lines of thought aimed at bringing together and getting these different museum stakeholders to collaborate, so that the exhibition spaces can really become places of presentation and discussion and minority narratives.

It is in this way that the museum will be able to invest its role of raising awareness and engaging the public in recognizing the diversity of society and openness to others. The state of the art shows that works in museology (and in history or cultural studies) interested in the question of minority narratives (analyzing the museum discourse carried by the exhibition – see in particular Araujo A.L. and Seiderer A. , 2007; Chivallon, 2013; Dubuc, 2002, 2004) and those who, in cultural mediation and the sociology of audiences, raise the question of participation and inclusion in the museum (see in particular Eidelmann, Gottesdiener, Le Marec, 2013 ; Caune, 2012), rarely overlap. Thus, the issue of “collaboration” is generally restricted either to the public-mediator relationship, or – possibly – to the relationship between curation/conservation and members of communities concerned by the exposure of their stories. This dynamic therefore only rarely includes all the players in the museum ecosystem, even if some recent work opens up new perspectives (see in particular Klichuk & Monbaron (dir.), 2021; Landkammer, 2021; Mörsch, Sachs and Sieber (eds.), 2021; Sitzia, 2021). The research developed within the framework of this project will thus strive to take into account the influence of the internal dynamics of the hierarchical structuring of professions and positions (and in particular that assigned to the public) in museums on the selection of certain points of view ( and on the possible invisibilization of other narratives) in the exhibition spaces.


Judith Dehail has been a lecturer in cultural mediation of the arts since September 1, 2018, member of the Laboratory of Studies in Sciences of the Arts (LESA, EA 3274). After a Master's degree at the University of California, Berkeley then at the ENS de Lyon (in museology), she completed a thesis under the supervision of Joëlle Le Marec at the University of Paris Sorbonne (2017). As part of her doctorate, she spent several years in Germany, in Berlin and in Leipzig, thanks to funding from the Marc Bloch Center, the Interdisciplinary Center for Studies and Research on Germany (CIERA) and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), among others. His research falls within the field of critical museology and cultural mediation, focusing on the political dimension of exhibition and museum mediation, the relationship between cultural institutions and audiences, and the question of “participation” in cultural action. Before being appointed to the University of Aix-Marseille, she taught museology, cultural mediation and qualitative survey techniques at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany), at the University Paris Diderot (in as a lecturer) and at the University of Paris Sorbonne (as a Temporary Teaching and Research Attaché). She is responsible for the cultural mediation sector of the arts at Aix-Marseille University, the Master's degree and the professional license "Mediation professions through artistic and cultural approaches".

Elle est responsable du projet en muséologie critique intitulé « Challenging Museums: Rethinking Institutional Norms and Practices », en collaboration avec Thomas Thiemeyer (Université de Tübingen, Allemagne) et Marlen Mouliou (Université d’Athènes, Grèce), projet financé par l’Union Européenne via le réseau CIVIS (Hub 2 : Society, Culture, Heritage). Elle a coordonné, dans ce cadre, la première école d’été internationale du projet, intitulée « Colonial Legacies and Post-colonial Challenges », qui a eu lieu à Marseille en juillet 2022. Elle a récemment organisé le colloque international « Prendre part à l’art et à la culture. Pratiques théories et politiques de la médiation culturelle aujourd’hui » (Marseille, Iméra & Turbulence, 7-9 octobre 2021), en collaboration avec Agathe Mareuge (Sorbonne Université). Elle est lauréate de l’AAP « Pépinières d’Excellence » 2021 de la Fondation A*Midex.