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Creating Positive Social Impact through History Exhibitions: The Social Construction of Race and the Building of the Panama Canal Open Access

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This paper uses the proposal for an exhibition entitled Building a Canal, Constructing Race: Prejudice and Labor in the Panama Canal Zone to explore a new framework for which museums create exhibitions: to promote active and positive social change, specifically through history exhibitions. This is accomplished by questioning the true purpose of exhibitions and exploring topics that include design for social impact, precedents for conversations about social issues in museums, as well as empathy building practices and theory. By utilizing this multi-disciplinary perspective on exhibition production, the proposal for this exhibition not only tracing the history of laborers building the Panama Canal, but also includes a more primary narrative on the social construction of race in order to serve a contemporary audience and address contemporary issues through a history exhibition.

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