History is often presented as a single narrative that unfolds on a linear path, from one event to another. Too often, these ‘grand narratives’ of history are shaped by entrenched ideologies, victors’ perspectives, colonial legacies, patriarchal values and contested identities. They set aside or leave out entirely, the ‘subaltern’ - stories and lived experiences of those on the margins of history. ‘Shared Journeys’ exhibition aims to decolonise the mind and democratise the very notion of an exclusive history, by bringing to light hidden, marginalised or lost histories, and the stories of the people that have lived them.
The Shared Journeys exhibition includes the work of 12 member organisations or projects of the Asian and Pacific Sites of Conscience Network, representing seven contexts. These are Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation, The Liberation War Museum from Bangladesh, The Peace Institute of Cambodia, Youth for Peace, Kdei Karuna from Cambodia, Network of Families of the Disappeared and Voices of Women Media from Nepal, The Herstories Project, International Centre of Ethnic Studies and The Institute of Social Development from Sri Lanka, The National Human Rights Museum of Taiwan and The Tibet Museum in India....
These exhibits speak of home, migration and exile; the dignity of life and the rights of minorities; the human cost of war and violence that still doesn’t break the human spirit; enforced disappearances and the impact on those left behind; they restore identities and sometimes contest presumed identity; and search for truth and justice. But they also highlight humanity’s connectedness - in our suffering and in our hope - that crosses many divides.
This exhibition serves to remind us that history is also perspective. These stories are not unique and their impact is not just localised to a specific country: They are histories of our world. They contribute new depth to our understanding of history and help us question commonly-held beliefs about what we think we know. The Shared Journeys exhibition reminds us how dangerous a single narrative can be and that we must engage with uncomfortable histories and multiple truths in order to empathise, acknowledge, heal, memorialise and understand each other. They advocate for a more pluralistic historical narrative and to raise our voices to support each other in the pursuit of truth, justice and democracy.