CAMOC Migration:Cities Workshop, Frankfurt, 2018

Reconfiguration of “Migration” and “Woman” in a participatory museum project

For a long time, migration was often represented in museums by displaying suitcases, which can be considered a romantic representation of migrants: “They pack their little lives” in a suitcase and leave for a foreign country. In many museum displays, suitcases stand for the good old days but also for poverty and for the hope for a better life. Furthermore, instead of presenting migrant groups with a variety of themes, such as their struggles, achievements, and goals, museums preferred to link migration to national history, emphasizing the concept of multiculturalism.

Thus, a picture of different people living together happily was drawn. The basic problem with this picture is that it doesn’t reflect the change in time and space. For instance, today, the terminology of “migrant” is mostly replaced with “citizen with migration origin,” which shows us the importance of rethinking how to display migration in museums. In this conceptual framework, this workshop aims to discuss the museology and curatorial experiences in the Federal German Migrant Women Association’s (GKB) Bibliothek der Generationen Project housed in the Historical Museum Frankfurt, which aims to archive the history of migrant women from the perspective of documenting their struggles through the years, achievements in the present day, and goals for the future. GKB was founded in 2005 in Frankfurt and then expanded to more than 25 cities and promotes the idea of socialization and integration of migrant women in Germany.

The women from different geographies in Turkey present diverse ethnical and religious identities. They participate in or organize demonstrations, hand out pamphlets, conduct close relationships with other institutions, and cooperate to further common interests. In this manner, the Bibliothek der Generationen Project aims to archive individual stories in various forms, such as s short story book, chore recording, annual activity calendar, 10th-year anniversary book, friendship book, paintings, and handcrafts in order to enable new migration narratives, which are beyond “a tiny suitcase full of frustrations and hope.” Archival materials, produced after following a series of workshops, are basically instruments for women to tell their own stories beyond dissatisfaction, desire, homeland, abroad, homesickness, problematic encounters with citizens of hosting countries, road trips to the homeland, letters, diaries, the smell of black tea, etc.

The project, which kicked off in June 2014, includes two participatory exhibitions as well: “ABC of Migrant Women Association: A Female Dictionary” (Cologne, 2015; Frankfurt, 2016; İstanbul, 2016; Berlin, 2017) and “World from Female Perspective!” (Berlin, 2017).

For more information about Migration:Cities, please check out the portal: http://migrationcities.net/

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