European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

‘Placing’ Europe in the Museum: people(s), places, identities

3-4 September 2012

Newcastle, United Kingdom | Newcastle University


MeLa | Research Field 01 International Conference
International Conference as part of the European Museums in an Age of Migrations (MeLA)  European CommissionFP7-funded project

Organised by the International Centre for Cultural & Heritage Studies, Newcastle University
The imperatives surrounding the museum representation of place have shifted from the late eighteenth century to today. This is in part because the political significance of place itself has changed and continues to change at all scales, fromlocal, civic, regional to national and supranational. At the same time, recognition of changes in population flows, migrationpatterns and demographic movement now underscore both cultural and political practice, be it in the accommodation of‘diversity’ in cultural and social policy, scholarly explorations of hybridity or in state immigration controls. These issues,taken historically, have particular significance for contemporary understandings of the role of place in individual, collectiveand state notions of society in the EU, in member states and in other European countries. How do European museumspresent societies as bound to, or enabled by, place and places? Or as having roots in places and/or taking routes from, to and through places? What cartographical groupings, borders, knowledges (e.g. archaeological, ethnographic etc.) andtraversals order and organise populations into societies in the museum? What is the metaphorical ‘place’ of place in European museums now, what does this say about identities?
To invert these questions, we might ask what happens or what can happen, when the ‘peoples’ and ‘places’ implicated in, and at least to some extent constructed in, museum representation shift, change, multiply, fragment and/or move? Whathappens when the museum desire for fixity is disrupted by new sensibilities towards population flows, multiple heritagesand the shifting territories of geopolitical places? Should museums’ representational practices change? If so how? What are the new dimensions of identity construction and production in museums whose physical place is fixed, but whoseaudiences, with their changing heritages and cultures, are not?
Keynote speakers include:

  • Peter Aronsson, Professor, Uses of the Past and Cultural Heritage, Tema Q, Culture Studies, LinköpingsUniversity, Sweden;
  • Ullrich Kockel, Professor of Ethnology and Folk Life, University of Ulster;
  • Annemarie de Wildt, Curator, Amsterdam Museum.

The issues discussed included:

  • Theoretical approaches to the study of museums and place
  • Representation of migration and mobility in European Museums
  • European and EU political contexts for place-people-culture relations
  • Place identities in museums: European, national, local and hybridised
  • Relationships between place and ethnicity in European museum representations
  • Visitor experiences of place representations in European museums
  • Belonging and alienation in European museums

MeLA Research Field 01 Conference organising committee
International Centre for Cultural & Heritage Studies, Newcastle University:
Dr Chris Whitehead (Fd01 leader)
Dr Rhiannon Mason (Co-investigator)
Dr Susannah Eckersley (research associate)
Dr Victoria Patton (research secretary)