Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Media and socio-cultural communication, Interdisciplinary, Arts

Publication Details

Changes in Museum Practice New Media, Refugees and Participation (eds.) Hanne - Lovise Skartveit and Katherine Goodnow, New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books (2010) pp. 1-16.

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Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea between North Africa and Europe, a receiving country for significant inward migration. For most migrants the goal is to reach mainland Europe. However, every year a significant number of smuggler boats inadvertently drift into Maltese territorial waters often in severe distress, resulting in rescue by the Maltese Navy and an uncertain future.

Whilst working in Malta I was struck by the similarities between Ireland and Malta. Both islands’ are peripheral locations on the western and southern edges of Europe. Historically both countries have experienced significant outward migration of its citizens who live all over the world. There are more Maltese and Irish people living outside their respective islands’ than in each country itself. Citizens from both countries have experienced other cultures either directly or indirectly through their diasporic family networks. But for the first time both communities are facing the challenge of living in close proximity to the newcomers.

In this chapter I describe and critically frame several strategies and collaborative working methods adopted with migrant co-collaborators in Malta and Ireland to engage with host country citizens. From the beginning of each project I consider my co-collaborators as agents of change, not as passive victims. The production of cultural artefacts is viewed as living and contingent. Participation is central to this process, beginning with periods of intensive engagement with refugees in Malta, and asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers in Ireland. Audiences are also considered to be participants when they engage with completed projects in various public contexts both inside and outside of museum and gallery settings.