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Turning migration heritage into a tool for intercultural dialogue

Perla Innocenti speaks about the National Museum on the History of Immigration in Paris
My research is about cultural networks and this concept of migrating heritage that I’m proposing. I’m interested, in particular, in understanding how cultural networks can support their whole societies, and culture institutions, to manage the tension, and also realise the opportunities arising from migration. So I was interested in selecting a really good example of working, operational, cross-domain, and, whenever possible, transnational, cultural networks in this area. And of course, La cité nationale de l’histoire de l’Immigration was immediately in my list. This is an incredible museum, a very controversial museum, that was created from grassroots initiative in France. it was the only national museum that was not formally inaugurated when it was opened.
It was created through the effort of French intellectual, historians, local association, values, immigrants associations, too. And it developed through the years into both a national museum, and also a cultural network with a national spectrum and international connections. ‘Le réseau’ the network, of ‘la Cité’ is collaborating through really effective partnerships with more than 150 cultural institutions, including universities, councils, associations, again, immigrants group, to determine the programmes of the museum, to create exhibits, to develop research topics, and other initiatives to bring people together. And one thing that I really like about this museum, among various aspects, is for example, the fact that they, through this collaborative approach,
they created the so-called, Gallery of Gifts: ‘la gallerie du don’, which is a very special place, because this is a gallery with objects that have been donated by migrants, objects that don’t have an aesthetic value or high commercial value, but objects that have an emotional value, objects that tell stories of how how migrants have reached France, and how they live their lives, the various stages. So that the gallery includes anything from formal documents, to personal objects, such as musical instruments or other daily life artefacts, that tell stories, and are very powerful.
And a few years ago, the museum managed to have these objects recognised as cultural heritage objects, which are to be recorded in the National Registry of the French Ministry. So for me, all I know, this museum is a great example of participatory governance within the French context, which is a very specific way of implementing cultural diversity.

Perla Innocenti from the University of Northumbria and the University of Glasgow speaks about the National Museum on the History of Immigration in Paris. She explains how this museum tries to create intercultural dialogue.

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Is the National Museum in the History of Immigration contributing to migrant inclusion or does it risk being patronising? How does this experience compare with that of Bristol discussed above?

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