Journal Article — Danishness, Nordic Amnesia and Immigrant Museums — by Lia Paula Rodrigues
Museums’ images and narratives play an active role in the construction of collective memories. Since collective memories are integral to the politics of social and group identity, most of the controversy surrounding museums’ representational practices depart from the question of who “owns” memory and what form of remembrance ought to be presented (Prosise 2003). Through an exploration of the Danish Immigration Museum’s website, in this article the author discusses the dynamics existent between DIM’s representational practices and its politics of exhibiting other cultures. In order to render intelligible such dynamics, the politics of remembrance (of particular cultural elements) and oblivion (of other elements) within the museum’s system of representation are scrutinized. Methodologically this means that questions concerning the “semiotics” of meaning production—how the museum classifies, categorizes, and represents other cultures—are not dissociated from the “politics” of meaning production—how the museum construct, through the objects it chooses to display and the narratives it chooses to tell, master narratives about itself. Accordingly, the representations of other cultures invariably involve the presentation of self-portraits, in that those who are observed are possibly eclipsed by the observer. The article’s goal is to address how colonial legacies—with their epistemic and ontological violence—continue to inform, implicitly, current dynamics of representations in Danish museums.
Rodrigues, Lia Paula. 2011. “Danishness, Nordic Amnesia and Immigrant Museums.” Pp. 23-33 in Contesting Memory: Museumizations of Migration in Comparative Global Context (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume IX, Issue 4, 2011.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).
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