Exhibiting refugee routes: Contemporary collecting as memory politics

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In recent years, numerous European museums have collected objects related
to refugees. This article examines the Flight for Life (På Flugt) exhibition (2017),
which the National Museum of Denmark organized based on a contemporary
collecting project that took place in Greece and Denmark in 2016. Alison
Landsberg’s concept of prosthetic memory is made use of here to examine how
the exhibition invited visitors to identify with refugees. This empathetic approach
had political potential by promoting solidarity with refugees. However, it did not
open up a broader contextualization of the collected objects in terms of the
migration policies of Denmark and the European Union. This article argues that
museums, through contemporary collecting projects of the refugee reception
crisis, engage in memory politics by framing how Europeans will be able to make
sense of the refugee reception crisis of the early twenty-first century
Original languageEnglish
JournalMuseum & Society
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)301-316
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • refugees
  • contemporary collecting
  • prosthetic memory
  • museums
  • Europe
  • Denmark

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