In-under-beyond National Regimes. Antiracism and Cultural Institutions
4th of April 2017, 18:00
Museum of Impossible Forms,
Kontula Shopping Centre, Keinulaudankuja 4 E, 2nd floor, lk 21, Helsinki.

Cultural politics and public institutions operate interdependently from federal border policies, therefor national categorisations produce different groups in hierarchical relation to effects on access to the state. National and EUrope migration discourses materialise how racism structures and institutionalises societies. At the same time, migrants are claiming other forms of representation that are challenging the state’s politics and institutions.

In the twenty first century, antiracist discourses as well as different migration policies have expanded into public cultural institutions. Museums in some European countries officially welcome migrants and consider migration as a part of society. At the same time, museum politics are bonded to highly problematic labor and border regimes, which affect the displays and stakeholdership within cultural institutions.

In these complex often ambivalent situations, it is usually not museum practice to support the equality of rights, access and existence in favor of anyone without stable social status. This usually remains the task of antiracist (culture) activists. For decades, migrant activist individuals, organisations and initiatives have developed a political practice with culture projects, founded self organised platforms despite working with very little to no federal support and recognition. The history and presence of cultural strategies at the ‘fringes’ show how culture can produce structures, methods, practices and organisations beyond representation politics.

Although official German representation discourses have developed towards an official self image of a “diverse” immigration country welcoming migrants, governmental politics, structures and institutions re-/produce distinctions and discriminations as well as create new exclusion splits within social access. At the same time, assemblages of national, EUropean and international politics open social and political border regimes.

Migrant antiracist demands are challenging and changing cultural politics in Germany; in recent years, migration has become a topic for cultural politics, projects and debates about visuality, stakeholdership and cultural institutions. Therefore the field of ‘the national’ is contested and in negotiation with new and old protagonists.

Using a critical analysis of current and local situations in German representation debates, I will present my methodological design of a cultural institution for equality, in the face of structural and institutional racism. I will present and discuss terms and methodologies of collaboration, multiplicity and decentrality.

Natalie Bayer is a scholar and curator. She studied european ethnology, art history and ethnology at the University of Munich, and has curated exhibitions including “Crossing Munich. Spaces, Images and Debates of Migration” (2009) at Stadtmuseum Kaufbeuren, and at Historisches Museum Frankfurt, “Movements of Migration” (2013). She worked as curatorial advisor, board and jury member for exhibitions (Hall/Tirol, Austria), cultural funding programs (SHIFT: Programme for Innovative Art, Vienna) and institutions (ZAK—Zukunftsakademie NRW). She is also a member of ‘kritnet’ (Network for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies). Since 2015 she works as a researcher/curator at the City Museum Munich for the project “Migration moves the city”. At the moment she also works on her Ph.D. thesis ‘Migration on Display’, an ethnographic study on knowledge productions and cultural policies in history museums.