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Workshop lab "Asthetics and materiality of knowledge"

Nov 14, 2018

On November 16 and 17, the workshop lab "Asthetics and materiality of knowledge – (un)sighted archives of migration" took place at the HCTS. It was organized by Dr. Cathrine Bublatzky, assistant professor of Visual and Media Anthropology, and focused on migratory materials that narrate experiences of displacement, movement and arrival.

Archives of migration remain often invisible. Hosting objects of memory such as letters, diaries, or photographs, these collections contain important knowledge of migrants’ histories and the narratives of individuals, families, and larger communities about experiences of displacement, movement, and arrival. They are resourceful materials with historical and aesthetic dimensions but often they remain unnoticed or unrecognized by a wider public. Many such private or artistic migratory archives are endangered by loss, misuse, or destruction by human or non-human agents due to missing institutional infrastructures.

By bringing anthropologists, artists, photographers and historians together, this workshop laboratory aimed to provide a productive space to discuss and experiment with concrete case studies and to rethink methodological and theoretical approaches that allow an empirical engagement with such sources. This workshop was supposed to not only contribute to current research in methodological and theoretical terms, but also to open a space for creative ideas on praxis and create networks between publics and resourceful archives of migration.

It was the second of a series of three workshops organized by the project "Contemporary Photography as a Cultural Practice by Diasporic Iranians in Europe." The project is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Foundation as part of the Elite-PostDoc Program and is hosted at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. The workshop was organized by Dr. Cathrine Bublatzky, assistant professor of Visual and Media Anthropology, and takes place in cooperation with Dr. Fiona Siegenthaler. Dr. Siegenthaler is a research associate at the Visual Identities, Art, and Design Research Center of the University of Johannesburg and at the University of Basel, where she was an assistant professor from 2012–2018.

The workshop emerged from Drs. Bublatzky and Siegenthaler's shared interests in the notion of the archive in context of migration. For the second workshop day they cooperated with the group MIGRATION HUB located at the DAI Makerspace Heidelberg. It addressed junior/mid-term scholars in particular, and artists and photographers and people related to or interested in migration and migratory archives.


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