Conference: Museums in Times of Migration and Mobility

04 April 2016

Date: May 25-26, 2016
Conference venue: Malmö University, Orkanen building, D 138

Migration has, across time, contributed to the development and reshaping of societies and urban spaces. Today, migration movements have become a global phenomenon, where the number of countries affected – socially, economically and culturally – by migration is continually increasing.

As in past times, the reasons why people move are varied and often intertwined. Sometimes it is about people fleeing poverty, war, ethnic conflicts, environmental disasters or different forms of persecution – for example religious. However, people also move for other reasons, such as work and studies in other countries, or out of curiosity and a sense of adventure.

International migration and mobility have implications for many sectors in society, including the museum sector. To be in tune with the times and relevant to all citizens, the museum sector needs, more than ever, to address issues that transcend national borders. 

As important educational institutions often visited by, amongst others, schoolchildren, museums have the potential to affect our notions of the world. By making museums places for exploring and learning about both the past and present of issues such as migration, mobility, transnational connections and human rights, they not only become more relevant as cultural institutions, but may also facilitate positive changes in how people relate to each other in the wider society – thereby ultimately contributing to society’s sustainable development.

This conference seeks to lay the scientific groundwork for the ways in which a museum of migration in Malmö, through a democratic approach, could represent issues of migration, reach out to new audiences, find ways of collaborating with civil society, and be a promoter of social change.

Opening speech 

The conference will be opened by the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke. 

The programme includes many distinguished speakers from both academia and the museum sector, including the following:

Keynote speaker

Peggy Levitt is Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Wellesley College and Co-Director of Harvard University’s Transnational Studies Initiative. Her new book, Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display, was published by the University of California Press in July 2015. In her talk, she explores how museums around the world are making sense of immigration and globalisation.


Parvin Ardalan, journalist, women´s rights activist and Malmö City´s first guest writer. 
Bonita Bennett, Director of District Six Museum, Cape Town, South Africa. 
Pieter Bevelander, Professor in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University, Sweden. 
David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool, UK.
Christina Johansson
, Senior Lecturer in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University, Sweden. 
Bernadette Lynch, academic and museum professional, UK. 
Kylie Message, Associate Professor at the Australian National University. 
Dragan Nikolić, Head of Research and Documentation at the Regional Museum in Kristianstad, Sweden. 
Maja Povrzanović Frykman, Professor of Ethnology at Malmö University, Sweden. 
Fredrik Svanberg, Head of Research at the National Historical Museum of Sweden. 
Alistair Thomson, Professor of History at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and a former President of the International Oral History Association.

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