HMKK03622U Cultural History: Part 2: After Migration: Re-imagining Identities, Histories and Belonging

Volume 2019/2020

Modern Culture and Comparative Literature


In the 20th and 21st centuries, a growing number of people have left their homes to cross state borders and settle in another country. No matter whether they have moved in search of a better life or been forcibly displaced by war, destitution, persecution or environmental disaster, they have contributed to the pluralisation and hybridisation of cultures and identities in receiving countries. Adopting migrant, postcolonial and feminist perspectives, this course examines how contemporary artists have grappled with these transformations and the conflicts and issues they have brought to the fore, particularly in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis that spurred a wealth of artistic and activist responses to European border policies and the predicament of refugees and irregular migrants.

Furthermore, a postmigrant perspective will be introduced as a means of situating artistic work within a more encompassing societal and historical process of transformation. The concept of postmigration does not refer to a societal state of affairs in which migration has ended, but to a set of problematics and struggles over identity, history and belonging – as well as racialisation, marginalisation and inequality – originating in the obsession with migration, migrants and migrantisising discourses which permeates contemporary European societies. ‘Postmigration’ thus provides a frame for understanding how these struggles tie in with current pluralisation and (re-)nationalisation processes in society at large.

The course aims to deepen insight into the effects of migration and postmigration as well as honing students’ methodological competencies in analysing artistic and phenomena that can be viewed as the result of the confluence of different cultures blending together, and as spotlighting the fault lines of societies or issues of refugeedom. To this end, we will engage with some key concepts and theories relevant to the study of a broad range of cultural and artistic phenomena: migration and postmigration, (trans-)cultural identity and belonging, collective memory and (imagined) community, racialisation and whiteness, hybridisation and cultural translation. We will read texts by scholars such as Sara Ahmed, Paula Moya, Stuart Hall, Astrid Erll and Kobena Mercer. Indicative artists/projects include Ai Weiwei, Isaac Julien, Jeannette Ehlers, Superflex, Zadie Smith and Rimini Protokol.

The purpose of the course is to give students the necessary skills to carry out an independent, in-depth contextual analysis of cultural-historical phenomena related to the course topic. The course starts out by introducing a historical frame for understanding the interrelations between migration and culture, along with some significant methodological discussions relevant to this topic. The remainder of the course revolves around two contemporary case studies and the students’ analytical work on source material selected by themselves in relation to these cases (texts, artworks, cultural phenomena): the first case concerns issues of community and identity; the second case centres upon the refugee crisis. Through their active participation in the course, students are also trained in organising, structuring and implementing a collaboration process, as the collections of material are prepared in groups.

Sten Pultz Moslund, Anne Ring Petersen and Moritz Schramm, eds, The Culture of Migration: Politics, Aesthetics and Histories, London: I.B. Tauris 2015 (at IKK’s library).

Anne Ring Petersen, Migration into art: Transcultural identities and art-making in a globalised world, Manchester: Manchester University Press 2017 (at IKK’s library).

To enhance learning, the courses combine different modes of teaching and learning. They alternate between lectures with plenary discussions, student-led analytical work (both individual and in groups), and teacher- and student-driven peer feedback. Moreover, the preparation of the collections of source material in the second course offers students possibilities to try out and experiment with different approaches to contextual and comparative cultural analysis.
Structure and language
The module Cultural History consists of two courses. The first part runs for four weeks. It builds a general foundation for the second course by introducing students to recent historiographical and methodological debates in the field of cultural history. The subsequent course focuses on a specific cultural historical topic and topic-specific methodologies.

The course will run in English to enable international students to participate and to provide non-native English speakers with an opportunity to develop their English language proficiency (including their professional domain-specific vocabulary) to prepare for common work tasks in today’s cultural sectors, such as international knowledge dissemination and collaboration. Candidates can choose whether to hand in their concluding exam project in Danish or in English.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 40
  • Exam
  • 84
  • Preparation
  • 296
  • Total
  • 420
Type of assessment
The mandatory reading list for the first course is comprised of 300-400 standard pages (of 2,400 keystrokes). The second course comprises 600 standard pages, of which 300 pages are chosen by the candidate. The sum total is 900-1,000 standard pages.
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