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

The Postcolonial Museum: the Pressures of Memory and the Bodies of History.

7-8 February 2013

Napoli, Italy | University of Naples "l'Orientale"
MeLa | Research Field 02 International Conference

International Conference as part of the European Museums in an Age of Migrations (MeLA)  European Commission FP7-funded project

Organised by University of Naples “l’Orientale”, MeLa RF2.


How to conceive of a “postcolonial museum” in the contemporary epoch of mass migrations, Internet and digital technologies? How to consider this space, practices and institutions in the light of the repressed histories, sounds, voices, images, memories, bodies, expression and cultures that the Occident has either denied or investigated as merely objects of traditional display practices? How to retrace and re-route museums perspectives taking into account the pressures of the denied bodies of European history repressed in its colonial past and present?
 How to re-think memory and its means in the light of the dissonant, asynchronous and displaced memories coming to meet us from the unregistered present, and the future narration of contemporary migration?
How to re-open the museum space, in order to transform it from a place of national identity and the accumulative logic multiculturalism, to a site of contaminations, fluxes, border-crossings and migrating memories?

Focusing on the transformation of museums (meant as cultural spaces rather than physical places) into living archive through creation, participation, production and innovation we will also consider the following issues:
How does the museum reshape its cultural spaces in the light of the precarious conditions of work of the subjectivities working within its context? How are those subjectivities produced within this context?
How do new media arts participate in the complex transformation of cultural artwork?

How to work towards new forms of archiving — “affective”, sensorial, sound and fluid archives — even in conventional museum spaces?

MeLa Research Field 2 (, composed of Researchers from the University of Naples “l’Orientale”, is investigating these issues in order to contribute to a different comprehension of museums and archiving practices that respond to postcolonial and cultural studies in order rethink museums as mobile and “heterotopic spaces”, rather than stable places of institutional memory.


Invited speakers include:
Ursula Biemann, artist, curator and researcher, Institute for Theory of Art and Design, Zurich, Switzerland.
Tarek Elhaik, anthropologist and curator, San Francisco State University, USA
Viviana Gravano, Professor of Arts, Academy of Fine Arts, Brera, Italy
Achille Mbembe, Professor in History and Politics, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Ebadur Rahman, Chief curator of «Bengal Foundation» and Editor of Jamini-International Art Magazine, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Françoise Vergès, Reader at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmith College, London, and President of the Comité pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage, France



A selection of the conference proceedings, presented in person at the The Postcolonial Museum: the Pressures of Memory and the Bodies of History International Conference, were collected in a volume published by Ashgate. 


MeLA RF2 Conference organising committee,
University of Naples “l’Orientale”:
Prof. Iain M. Chambers (RF2 leader)
Prof. Lidia Curti (Honorary Professor)
Dr Alessandra De Angelis, Beatrice Ferrara, Giulia Grechi, Mariangela Orabona (MeLa researchers)