The museum and the rhizome: a study of posthuman practice at Middlesbrough institute of modern art

  • Nina White

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis applies Rosi Braidotti’s posthuman philosophy and approaches to the study of creative, curatorial and community practice at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA). Based on eighteen months of pre-pandemic fieldwork at MIMA, White’s work considers the ways in which posthumanism’s connections between human, non-human and ‘eco-others’, can be usefully applied to examine the ways in which the contemporary museum and gallery responds to locally felt, global issues of climate breakdown, migration, ageing and loneliness – all heightened by the pandemic. Through the thesis’s three main chapters, White draws on examples from MIMA’s 2018-2021 public programming to frame its work as follows: posthuman in practice (The Nourishing Museum); posthuman in politics (The Listening Museum), and posthuman in structure (The Museum Commons). Weaving in the work of artists such as Laura Harrington, Jasleen Kaur, Lisette Auton, and Mikhail Karikis, as well as MIMA’s various learning programmes for people who have migrated, people with dementia, and young people, White’s posthuman approach grounds their research within the highly specific socio-political context of Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley. At the same time, the thesis builds on relevant work and theories from the fields of new institutionalism, museum activism, and care-work in museums, to build a philosophical framework for museums that befits the times of crisis that they are currently operating in. Through their work, White develops a concept of the ‘posthuman museum’ which can be helpfully applied to the next generation of museums activism, incorporating communities, artists, curators, museum workers, and volunteers – constituting the human, non-human and eco-other.
Date of Award8 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University

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