Focus "Representations on migration"

Although Germany considers itself nowadays to be a land of immigration, migration and its protagonists still are usually represented in national terms. Migration is usually narrated and visualized using rhetorics of victims, criminals and exoticism and contrasted to an image of national society that reifies itself in terms of a stable, settled, homogenous normality. This gaze is connected to national and colonial ideas that produced and practiced a specific relationship between the imagined nation state and its supposed "others". Thus for example this gaze visualizes and materializes national knowledge as territorial, historical and related to questions of population. In consequence culture allows to symbolically and materially create differences and hierarchies between an imagined dominant culture in contrast to cultures of the distant "others" – culture thus also backs up social orders and participation possibilities according to national logics. This defines not only knowledge systems but also constantly changing definitions about inclusions and exclusions and produces visibilities and blind spots.

Often enough scholars also enter the scene and thus re-tie a historical interwovenness between institutions and science. It is not only day-to-day representations but also social and cultural sciences with its concepts, agendas and methods that construct migration as a problem, interruption, strangeness and otherness or as objects of political concepts. Still: the places, politics and contents of the representation of migration are in constant transition. They are contested zones negotiated by a lot of different stakeholders from the "centers" and "fringes".

Based on a combination of migratory self-representation claims, academic critique, neoliberal policies and tight budgets of institutions one can now observe new constellations and a change in identity and history politics that is leading towards an inclusion of migration aspects in history narratives. According to these development and a critical analytic perspective the research projects in this section trace the representations of migration with regard to the contexts, productions, functions and effects as well as stakeholders and their different rationalities, approaches, politics and in conclusion places, where migration is envisioned.

Research projects within this focus:

Natalie Bayer
Migration on Display. Ethnographic perspectives on the knowledge production of musealization processes of migration in history and city museums
Natalie Bayer re-constructs processes, concepts and agendas on migration mainly of the German museum field. Via ethnographic methods and discourse analysis she looks at "contact zones" with their conflictual negotiations of migrants, academics, institutions and political stakeholders. On the basis of counter-representation strategies she develops a constructive critique on cultural institutions.


  • Bayer, Natalie (2014): Post the museum. Anmerkungen zu den Effekten der Migration im Museumsbetrieb. In: Elpers, Sophie/Palm, Anna (Hg.): Die Musealisierung der Gegenwart. Von Grenzen und Chancen des Sammelns in kulturhistorischen Museen. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag (forthcoming)
  • Bayer, Natalie (2014): Migration und die museale Wissenskammer. Von Evidenzen, blinden Flecken und Verhältnissetzungen. In: Yildiz, Erol/Hill, Marc (Hg.): Nach der Migration. Postmigrantische Perspektiven jenseits der Parallelgesellschaft. Bielefeld (forthcoming).
  • Bayer, Natalie (2013): Dragutin Trumbetaš – Kunst als widerständiges Handeln. In: historisches museum frankfurt (Hg.): Dragutin Trumbetaš: Gastarbeiter in Frankfurt 1965 – 1985 (Ausstellungspublikation). Frankfurt (forthcoming).
  • Bayer, Natalie/Terkessidis, Mark (2012): Zombie Attak! Ein Plädoyer für mehr Phantasie in der Debatte über Museum und Migration. In: kulturpolitische mitteilungen. Zeitschrift für Kulturpolitik der Kulturpolitischen Gesellschaft, Heft 139, IV/2012. S. 52-54.
  • Bayer, Natalie (2012): Unter den Vitrinen. In: Hinterland, Thema: Unterhaltung, 21/2012. S. 47-52.

Christine Braunersreuther
VISITS AND VISIBILITY. Means of (re)presentation of transnational Care Workers from Eastern European countries in exhibitions
Transnationally operating care workers from Eastern Europe are almost invisible in the public life of their places of work, although they are highly present by number in so called "visits". They are accepted as "silent helpers", but their situation is hardly reflected upon. The main question of this thesis is, if and how far exhibitions can make care work and their protagonists visible and if this approach, in general, makes sense. In a short historical review, the traditional invisibility of care work will be illustrated, focusing on prejudices and attributions about the mainly female care workers at their places of work and their profitability to social systems in capitalist societies. In contrast, there will be reflected the self-perception of care workers, their views on their work and the impact of transnational operation. Based on discussions in cultural anthropologic and feministic theory about care work there will be lead, how the socio-historical contribution of care work can be presented. From the views of Museology, Scenography and Visual Studies, there will be lighted different means of presentation. Key point of this research will be to find out, how, if and in which way the international protagonists of care work want to be represented. Inclusive museological methods such as Participation and Social Inclusion may be helpful in this, but the extenct and sensibility of their usage will be scrutinised. Also the or the so called Performative Exhibiting, working with emotions, and the use of artworks and artistic interventions will be discussed with Care-Workers.

Habibe Senturk is researching "halay" for her dissertation. Being a highly popular form of traditional dance practice in Turkey, halay has taken on political significance especially over the past three decades. Curious to understand to what extent this political meaning transfers to the German context or how this meaning transforms after migration, she is doing an ethnographic fieldwork among the diaspora in Germany.