Journal article

Melbourne's Islamic Museum of Australia: The “white-washed ‘I’” as an Apollonian celebration of liberal myths

Muslims Muslim ethnic identity Islam Islamophobia Museums Cultural awareness Minority groups Religious communities Australia Melbourne

This paper examines how the Melbourne's Islamic Museum of Australia tells a story of an “Australian Islam” through its use of material and artistic objects; how it symbolizes and synthesizes the assumed binary of East and West, through spatial expressions that narrate a religious community's “growing up” in a changing urban and Australian context. Furthermore, it looks at how the curators, intentionally or otherwise, deal politically with the Muslim community's affective relationships that are shaped by their experiences as a minority that endures a persistent Islamophobia in the community. By examining the role the Museum's material artefacts play in intercultural relations within a multicultural Australia the paper draws from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, to argue that the Museum reflects an Apollonian sense of art that attempts to regulate and control the wilder excesses of a Dionysian and communal spirit. The Apollonian view translates to an expressive and abstract celebration of liberal myths about progress and individuality that purposely relegates the more dangerous struggles of Muslim immigrants dealing with the conditions of a Dionysian post-colony to the shadows.

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