Crisis and Imagination (Maynooth/IE, 24-27 August 2010)

"Crisis and Imagination"
11th EASA Biennial Conference
Maynooth/Ireland, 24-27 August 2010


Kerstin Poehls (Humboldt University) -
Silja Klepp (University of Leipzig) -
Mary Stevens (UCL)

Sabine Hess (LMU Munich)

What crisis? Representations of migration and Europe and the role of museums

With regard to the place of migration in museums, ethics of representation come to the fore. What are the critical/ambivalent relationships between museal space and (clandestine) migrants? How are migration museums, state policy, migrant rights groups and imaginaries of migrants past and present linked?

"What crisis?" was the reaction of an activist from Mali when asked to comment on the economic crash,* pointing out that the inflationary use of the word "crisis" is not always proportionate. Millions of migrants on their way north and west imagine Europe as quite the opposite of "crisis": politically stable, promising prosperity or at least the absence of hunger or repression.

On the other hand, images of migrant bodies circulate in the media all over Europe but in whose interest? A number of European countries have recently sought to revise a national self-image to incorporate their histories of (im)migration and now reflect this inside their museum spaces. Yet when migration becomes the topic of an exhibition, the ethics of representation come to the fore: who is talking about whom?
Who is the audience, and what kind of story about migration, Europe and its state is being told?

This workshop will seek to explore the critical and ambivalent relationships between museums/galleries, migrants and their individual/collective agency, advocacy and migrant rights groups. Bringing together young researchers interested in the various aspects of the representation of migration, we want to debate the relationship between migration museums and state policy, especially focusing on the (unintentional) role of migration museums as part of a strategy to reinforce the boundaries of 'Fortress Europe' by reinforcing a distinction between the various forms of mobility we witness.


We would welcome proposals for papers on any of the following areas:
- museal and other representations of migration and mobilities inside and into EUrope
- how do museums deal with the question of clandestine migation
- representations of European border regime(s)
- materiality and material culture of migration

Papers have to be submitted via the website; if you are interested in proposing a paper, follow this link:
Deadline: 1 March 2010

Dr. Kerstin Poehls | "Exhibiting Europe"
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie
Mohrenstraße 40-41 | DE-10117 Berlin

H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies


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