This research analyses Human Libraries as an innovative new antiracism strategy.
The first Living Libraries began as community-led responses to local experiences of
racism in the context of wider politics of fear and prejudice during the ‘war on terror’
both internationally – at the Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark, and in Australia –
at Lismore in northern NSW. While the aims and activities of Living Libraries have
diversified as the concept has been widely applied, our research focuses on the original
aims of addressing prejudice and racism. We analyse the achievements and limitations
of Human Libraries as an antiracism strategy, and reflect on the pros and cons of the
shifting aims of Living Library projects.
The framework for analysis was developed with reference to the scholarly literature on
antiracism strategies, and on the possibilities and limitations of contact theory and
storytelling techniques in particular. Here we focus on critiques of existing antiracism
strategies in order to identify the key challenges for innovation.