Exploring the potential of museums and their collections in working practices with refugees.

Sergi, Domenico (2016) Exploring the potential of museums and their collections in working practices with refugees. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the complexities, conflicts and ethical dilemmas involved in the
study of refugee resettlement, arguing that museums can play a fundamental role in
current debates around asylum. The study presents a cross-disciplinary theoretical
examination of the work developed in the last two decades by museums in Britain with
and about refugees. It explores the tension between the asylum discourses constructed
by museums and refugees’ personal narratives of resettlement, contributing to
museological debates around human rights and person-centred methodologies in forced
migration studies.
I analyse the ambiguities surrounding the human rights discourses articulated by
museums, drawing from an extensive survey undertaken across the museum sector and
a study of the partnerships established with refugee advocacy organisations. One of the
main conclusions reached is that museums have either romanticised exiles or
pathologised refugees as traumatised subjects, subjugating human rights discourses to a
logic of conditional belonging.
Building on the analysis of a refugee community engagement project developed by the
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich, I explore the potential of object-centred
practices in providing exiles with a symbolic resource to articulate their own experience
of resettlement. I argue that this analysis can help museum scholars and practitioners to
move beyond notions of locality and cultural specificity in their work with diaspora
groups, bringing a fresh perspective to scholarly debates around the affective potential
of museum objects and the embodied experiences they can trigger.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Katie Miller
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 15:17
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2020 13:03
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/63138
DOI:

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