Tafterjournal n. 84 - SETTEMBRE OTTOBRE 2015

Museum and Migration


Rubrica: Libri

Parole chiave:

Today is urgent to reflect about the integration of migration history in the museum spaces and narrative.


Migration is a “complex condition of our contemporary society and a crucial component in the economic, cultural and social growth in Europe”. Nowadays we see an intensive migration flows with a rapid circulation of cultures, ideas and goods and everyday it is more evident that “globalization isn’t the story of cultural homogenization”. During this age when the human movements are intensified, it is necessary that museums start to reflect about the socio-cultural implication of the plural face of population composing the modern state.


In some case was directly sponsored by the UNESCO, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, in order to promote an “ acceptance of culture-in-difference”. According to Gouriévidis “if an idea of immigration is wielded as a powerful instrumental weapon in political discourse, migration as a process is a fundamental feature of the post-modern and post-colonial world.


The volume presents the multifaceted forms and challenges that exhibition in a museums engaging with the history of migration can offer.
The book’s structure isn’t organized in terms of historical experience but by geographical. In fact the aim is to point out similarities and contrast.
The organization is simple and clear: the book is divided into three parts where the first one introducing issues and challenges about the theme of migration in museum.


The second part considers the effect of the museum with the issue of diversity, citizenship and migrant narrative; the last one focuses on how national narratives have accommodated migration history.


Moreover the book joins different articles written by members of museum and academic. The result is that the reader can get a wide overview that combines practical examples with academics analyses focusing on a wide range of geo and socio-political issues. It includes an extensive range of international contributions from Europe, Asia, South America as well as settler societies such as Canada and Australia.


For example Identity: Yours, Mine, Ours was a permanent exhibition which opened at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne in 2011. It is presented by Kylie Message as one of the main case of study for the centrality of racism in the exhibition. “The visitors can revisit the creeping issue of ‘multiculturalism fatigue’ in order to start a fresh conversation about identity and belonging across lines of races, place and perception”. Positive or negative responses by the visitor, it was certain that racism has returned to the national agenda which considered racism as a constitute form of political discourse.
Italian museum have recently started to consider the importance of migration in the museum also for the stimulus given by European projects. Several projects have taken place in Italian museums such as Brera: Tutta un’altra storia: the paintings of the Gallery in Milan where described through the eyes of mediator with a migratory background. The results was an intersection between the story of the painting and one’s own story.


Finally the book offers reflection on the memorialization of migration in contemporary society, theme never been more relevant than today.


Museums and Migration
History, Memory and Politics
Edited by Laurence Gourievidis
Routledge, 2014
264 pages

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