“The Forensic Oceanography project was launched in summer 2011 to support a coalition of NGOs demanding accountability for the deaths of migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea while that region was being tightly monitored by the NATO-led coalition intervening in Libya. The efforts were focused on what is now known as the “left-to-die boat” case, in which sixty-three migrants lost their lives while drifting for fourteen days within the NATO maritime surveillance area.
By going “against the grain” in our use of surveillance technologies, we were able to reconstruct with precision how events unfolded and demonstrate how different actors operating in the Central Mediterranean Sea used the complex and overlapping jurisdictions at sea to evade their responsibility for rescuing people in distress. The report we produced formed the basis for a number of ongoing legal petitions filed against NATO member states.”
“From a vantage point here in Za’atari, a group of Syrian artists have taken it upon themselves to recreate miniature models of the monuments that have been ruined. In efforts to combat the feelings of outrage and helplessness, these painstaking recreations serve as an act of defiance. The original sites may be have been destroyed, but that does not mean that the citizens’ rich history must be completely lost and forgotten.
In an interview with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Mahmoud Hariri, an art teacher and painter from Syria, explained: “This is a way for them not to forget. As artists, we have an important role to play. A lot of what we know about ancient civilizations or prehistoric people is preserved through their art—Egyptian hieroglyphs or cave paintings.” The replicas are created using whatever materials the artists have on hand—from clay and rock to kebab skewers and discarded wood. Despite the makeshift fabrication, the resulting models are beautiful in their ability to symbolize a peoples’ determination…”
“With his brow furrowed in concentration, Abu Abdullah rhythmically strums his oud, exploring the core of a melancholic melody. Mohamad Isa Almaziodi’s robust and melismatic voice soars above, full of emotional ornamentation – sighing and repeating, rising and falling – until he runs out of breath and the phrase is forced to finish. In his song, Mohamad is singing about how strange life is, how harsh the nights are: ‘Oh this life is so strange… our home became very far. Very far.’ But before he can finish, he is overcome by homesickness and with his head in his hands, he cries. He is crying for his beloved country and for the father he left behind.
Abu and Mohamad are residents of Zaatari, a refugee camp located just a few kilometres east of Mafraq, Jordan, near the Syrian border. Originally established as a temporary settlement in July 2012 for Syrians fleeing the civil war, Zaatari is now home to an estimated 79,000 refugees and stretches over five square kilometres.”
It was hard for Ingrid Butler not to feel helpless whenever she heard or read about the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Syria, trying to make their way across the Mediterranean Sea to hoped-for safety.
Butler lived along the Amalfi coast decades ago; she still feels a deep connection to the area.
“It got me thinking what can I do, recognizing these people who are losing their lives trying to migrate, looking for a better life for their family,” says Butler, a multifaceted paper artist and longtime marbler. […]Butterflies are an icon of renewal, happiness and more than that. Freedom, metamorphosis,” she says.”
Objects Through Time
Migration Heritage Centre, Australia
Online since 2010
“Objects through Time traces the history of migration of people, technology and ideas to our shores through a collection significant objects, spanning a 60,000 year time frame.
It begins with the first migrants, the Aboriginal people who discovered and settled Australia, the Macassan and European explorers, sailors and navigators who mapped it and the waves of 19th and 20th century migrants who built it. All these people have written the story of modern Australia. The story concludes with the Friendship Stick made especially by Aboriginal artists Gavin Flick, Alana and Jai Rose for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
This fascinating and thought provoking exhibition examines key events in the long history of migration to Australia through objects that speak to us about our past. It explores important places and events in Australian migration history and introduces the people who have shaped Australia’s rich and diverse cultural identity.”
Visit the website to learn more and to explore the exhibition.
“The website “Routes of Migration” retraces paths of immigrants and emigrants on a map of present-day North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). In doing so, it marks different “places of memory” in NRW, a province which has been uniquely shaped by migration. The website was developed in 2007, through the collaborative work of the Integration Commissioner of NRW, the photo agency lichtbild and DOMiD.
Citizens were invited to propose places and events that belong to the province’s migration history. Examples include the Hindu temple in Hamm and notable streets, such as the “Weidengasse” in Cologne and “Untere Wernerstraße” in Solingen.
“Routes of Migration” has received praise from the Council of Europe. The Council formally recognized the online project as part of the “European Routes of the Cultural Heritage of Migration,” describing it as exemplary.”
From the artist’s website: “In 2008 I was carrying out fieldwork among a group of Egyptian immigrants in Milano, Italy, as part of my MA dissertation. There was a strong visual component to this research, and I took many photographs that I kept showing to my subjects and friends. With one of them, Osama el-Sayed, I conceived the idea of representing their story in images and narration, setting it in the future. I prepared a selection of pictures and had Osama improvise a narration on them, mixing elements of his own biography and of his friends and relatives. He also mixed reality and imagination, choosing the status of a successful, married and documented migrant for his narrator, which he wasn’t at the time. Hinting at the practice of changing identities migrants adopt to dodge immigration controls, the protagonist in the photographs is not identified with certainty. For its participatory and multi-layered qualities I consider this piece deeply anthropological.”
“The New York Public Library’s Community Oral History Project is an initiative taking place at NYPL branches that aims to document, preserve, and celebrate the rich history of the city’s unique neighborhoods by collecting the stories of people who have experienced it firsthand.”
Featuring stories from members of many communities in NYC including Harlem, Greenwich Village, Washington Heights and Soho, many of these oral histories are given by immigrants and/or describe what it means to live, work, and build community by weaving together the multiplicity of customs from diverse cultures.
Migration museums cover human migration in the past, present and future.
The current trend in the development of migration museums, named differently worldwide, is an interesting phenomenon, as it may contribute to the creation of a new and multiple identity, at an individual and collective level. The United States with Ellis Island, Australia, Canada, and more recently several European countries — e.g. France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom — have been creating such venues to facilitate transmission between generations as well as encounters between migrants and the host populations, by telling their personal story.
While these initiatives also serve the duty to remember, they seem to have three main objectives: Acknowledge, integrate and build awareness.
Acknowledge: The contributions made by migrants to their host societies; the diversity and wealth of the origin cultures and; the right to a dual-belonging.
Include and Integrate: Foster the sense of belonging; enable the communities to feel as an integral part of the nation; find common ground and contribute to a national identity.
Build awareness and educateon the events that induced individuals — and refugees in particular — to leave their land, thus developing empathy among the host population. More generally, deconstruct stereotypes on immigration.
Given the international scene and the latest events, from the Van Gogh affair in the Netherlands in 2004 to the so-called ‘crise des banlieues’ in France in 2005, there is an urgent need to give the migrant generations (the youth as well as their parents) a voice, in order to foster inclusion, integration and the right to difference. Listening to individual stories may help to deconstruct stereotypes. Memory, History and Narration may also allow to take a step back and to consider the complete picture.
Migration museums also face common challenges, in that they intend to be not only a venue for conservation and exhibition, but also and above all a lively meeting place. The challenge is not so much to bring in the intellectuals, academics, researchers, historians, traditional visitors of museums (the converted) but to attract the general public, those with preconceived ideas on immigration and the migrants themselves.
In addition to the following list, there are many local heritage initiatives and smaller museums which have increasingly focused on migration as a part of the narrative they portray.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum suffered the devastation of Hurricane Sandy firsthand. Now, more than two years after the storm struck New York City (and many other places), the building is celebrating its comeback with a new name: Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Under this rejuvenated image, the museum will tell the story of humans moving across the entire world, rather than focusing just on those that passed through its iconic halls. Three new exhibits are going to be inaugurated on May 20th, all delivering content based on the pre- and post-Ellis Island days. One of them is the World Migration Globe, a custom-made sphere that’s powered by two HD projectors and delivers a nine-minute video presentation about the 200,000 years of human migration.