2019 MeditHerity Summer School
Updated: Dec 18, 2019
I contributed a session called 'Migration, heritage politics and the role of tourism' to the 2019 MeditHerity summer school (blog) in late September. Many thanks to the programme's organiser, Dr Francesco Vietti (Univ. of Milan-Bicocca, Italy), for the invitation to join!
MeditHerity summer school
Cultural heritage is commonly thought as a product of the longstanding link between people and their own territory. But, as anthropologist James Clifford shown us, in our contemporary world culture and identity are associated to "routes" as much as to "roots". We are prompted to recognize that different kinds of mobility and flows are closely connected to the global dynamics of place-making.
The Mediterranean is one of the most significant areas where we can observe this phenomenon. Here the constant movement of tourists and migrants across both sides of the sea in the last decades has been producing several (un)expected encounters. On the beaches of Lesvos and Kos as in the ethnic neighborhoods of Marseille and Barcelona, in the "Sea Memory Museum" of Zarzis as at "Porto M" of Lampedusa, the clear-cut border between tourism and migration is contested and vanished.
In order to follow the paths of this "heritage on the move", we can combine different fields of studies and manage a variety of approaches, ranging from engagement in theoretical debate to application of our skills in innovative projects.
The main aim of the Summer School was to improve the knowledge of the participants in the anthropology of mobility and heritage and their capacity to develop fruitful cooperations with private and public agencies.
The Summer School was divided in sets of lessons and activities including: analysis of theoretical and methodological tools; presentation of case studies with an ethnographic approach; visits to specific places and institutions engaged in migration and tourism in Malta. Topics covered include:
Tourism-led migration and migration-led tourism
Roots tourism/diaspora tourism
Ethnic neighbourhoods as places of leisure and consumption
Responsible and ethical tourism
Two half days were devoted to take part in a workshop organized by the staff of the “RIMA Project” about the relationship between forced migration, self-narrative and theatre and to design a pilot "intercultural walking tour" related to the "MIGRANTOUR Project."
My 'Migration, heritage politics and the role of tourism' session
Throughout much of the world, migrants have been sorely mi specifically has been used to support and reify dominant historical narratives and heritage practices, overshadowing a plurality of co-existing yet less visible ones. We examined the conventional travel guidebook’s role in essentialising and fixing people and cultures in time and space to facilitate tourist consumption and political objectives, focussing specifically on ways in which it has contributed both to migrants’ exoticisation and to the de-territorialisation and commoditisation of migrant political and cultural heritage.
In the first part of the session, we began by exploring the differences between history and heritage, so that we can examine examples of ways in which traditionally marginalised peoples have struggled for their memories, spaces and experiences to be included in official historical narratives and heritage practices.
In the second part, we looked at the ways in which tourism specifically has been used to support and reify dominant historical narratives and heritage practices, overshadowing a plurality of co-existing yet less visible ones. We examine the conventional travel guidebook’s role in essentialising and fixing people and cultures in time and space to facilitate tourist consumption and political objectives, focussing specifically on ways in which it has contributed both to migrants’ exoticisation and to the de-territorialisation and commoditisation of migrant political and cultural heritage.
In the final part of the session, we developed a more hopeful take on tourism’s productive potential by examining how its embodied, experiential and place-based nature can be harnessed to facilitate contact with and openness to difference/the Other, multi-perspectivity and transformative learning. We took a look at contemporary initiatives that make strategic use of tourism as a heritage-from-below tool to sensitise visitors to the complex ways in which people with migration backgrounds experience, make sense of and make the best of the places in which they live today and in the past.