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Queen's University

School of Policy Studies

What China learned from Canada about identity (and what we may be forgetting)    

October 10, 2013,  12:00 pm - 1:00 pm 
Robert Sutherland Hall, 138 Union Street, Room 202

** Light lunch starts at 11:30 AM

RABINOVITCH.jpgVictor Rabinovitch
Fellow and Adjunct Professor, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Victor Rabinovitch is a Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the Queens School of Policy Studies. He is also the Board Chair of Opera Lyra, Ottawa’s professional opera company. For over 11 years, Dr. Rabinovitch was President and CEO of Canada’s largest museum institution – the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian War Museum. During this period, these national museums expanded dramatically in their artefact collections, exhibitions and physical renewal, including the construction of the new War Museum close to Parliament Hill. He was previously a senior Public Servant in both federal and provincial governments, and in the Canadian Labour Congress. He worked as an Assistant Deputy Minister in a range of programs in departments such as Human Resources Development, Fisheries and Oceans, Labour, and Canadian Heritage. Dr. Rabinovitch speaks and writes widely, in Canada and abroad, on issues in Canadian history, identity, public policy and culture. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in promoting knowledge of Canadian history.

Public policies are routinely focussed on “hard” services such as industrial programs, financial assistance, or fiscal management. But public policies are equally essential to the “soft” dimensions of national life, such as social programs, official languages, or community identity.

Public cultural institutions convey messages and narratives about history, group achievements, values and goals. This part of national life is ideally aimed at strengthening community understanding and cohesion

In Beijing, the newly rebuilt National Museum of China sits on Tian’anmen Square, opposite Mao’s Mausoleum and the Great Hall of the People. It is the world’s largest museum building, and was designed in part with exhibition concepts from the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. But now the Canadian museum is moving away from its roots, to be transformed into a  “Canadian Museum of History” with a new name and reduced mandate.

What can we learn about China from how its national museum portrays that country’s ancient and modern society? And what can we learn about the Federal government’s policies on identity as reflected in the changes proposed for Canada’s national museum – the country’s most visited cultural institution?

All Are Welcome.

School of Policy Studies, Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.3020