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Title: Exploring the potential of museums and their collections in working practices with refugees
Author: Sergi, Domenico
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 9254
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2016
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available