Kerstin Poehls

Zeigewerke des Zeitgeistes? Migration, ein boundary object im Museum


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For a while now, all over Europe numerous exhibitions on migration have opened their doors. Migration exhibitions are by no means the only places of public discussion about migration in today’s Europe – in contrast to political and feuilleton debates, however, they make the subject physically accessible and perceptible to the senses. For a snapshot of the ongoing negotiation process this text draws on the concept of the boundary object and examines the discourse on the issue of migration by the example of some museum representations. Starting from the embedding of the condensed symbol for migration per se – the suitcase – the different roles are discussed, which cultural-historical objects on the one hand and an exhibition design that operates with an artistic form language on the other hand have. The work currently done by curators and museums on the boundary object migration points to a paradox: in both fields knowledge work is done, the ,own‘ and the ,foreign‘ is reflected, and traditional categories become brittle in the face of a reflexive Europeanization. Yet, the interest in theories, which has significantly increased in the last third of the last century, and the many turns in the sciences seem to have contributed to a disconnection from internal debates in museums – and vice versa.

Poehls K. (2010). Zeigewerke des Zeitgeistes? Migration, ein boundary object im Museum. Zeitschrift für Volkskunde, 106(2), 225-245.