After studying in Rome for my BA I moved first to Berlin and then to Manchester, where I graduated from the MA in Arts Management, Policy and Practice. My dissertation focused on public policy and governmentality in the context of culture-led regeneration of local neighborhoods. After working as a coordinator for the evaluation of the Manchester Histories Festival, I decided to move back to Germany. I lived and worked in Leipzig until I was recruited for my Ph.D. at the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture.
There are several individuals and groups arriving and settling in Amsterdam, that, for different reasons, are legally or formally excluded from full citizenship: migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented and the so-called ‘uitgeprocedeerd’, – asylum seekers whose request has been denied. Like in several other European capitals, also in this city there is a provision of activities dedicated to foster the inclusion and/or integration of migrants and refugees, through cultural heritage practices. Some of these are self-organized, others are coordinated by museums and other heritage actors – going ‘beyond their walls’ in order to fulfill their role as social institutions.
My research project frames cultural heritage as one of the most effective tools for defining, but also questioning and rearranging, the borders of belonging and inclusion. In this context, heritage-as-performance becomes part of an articulate strategy to transform a ‘refugee’ into a subject deserving of rights. This type of subjectification happens when a non-citizen performs her own heritage, making it available for public consumption, in order to stake a claim of shared humanity/personhood; at the same time, the non-citizen must prove her allegiance to the community of values of the hosting country, time and time again. This happens by both actively taking part in the heritage practices of the new ‘home’ while forgetting, or dissimulating, the parts of their heritage that make them the Other.
The main questions this project seeks to address are therefore the following: 1) which role do museums and other heritage actors play in producing or co-producing these performances? And 2) Can performing heritage create a space for individuals and groups struggling to access the ‘right to have rights’?