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. Allison 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 Europe will be able to make sense of the refugee reception crisis of the early twenty-first century.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMuseum & Society
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


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

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