The seventh day of the summer school began with a morning lecture by Meghann Ormond, Associate Professor in Cultural Geography at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands.
After discussing the theoretical framework and the fundamental concepts of space, place and landscape we have explored the different connotations of heritage.
Through an interactive exercise we reflected upon the concept of heritage not only as it is often described by the dominant historical narratives and practices but also as an individual and collective present experience.
Following the innovative approach of Thrift and Massey we have tried to compare the dominant representation with our own experiences and we realized that our environments are both actively shaped by us and actively shaping us. This raised our awareness that memory is not a passive depository of facts and that heritage is more than monumental. It is an individual and collective sense of experience from the past and the use of this inheritance in the present (Robertson).
This perspective allowed us to break away from the authorized heritage discourse that naturalizes hegemonic western elite cultural values and to start thinking about alternative narratives (Smith).
Professor Ormond showed us a practical application of these theories. Usually guidebooks fix people in space and time and tend to misrepresent, under-represent or overlook migrant communities. Her current work on the project “Roots Guide” aims at portraying a destination as it is seen through the eyes of migrants and at making people feel aware of a shared cultural heritage.
In the afternoon we had a really interesting class held by Virginia Monteforte and Isabel Farah from the Rima Project. Rima is an anthropological and artistic project born in 2014 in Malta with the aim of exploring the multifaceted aspects of migration, displacement and exile through a variety of creative activities. During the first half of the meeting they shared with us some of their most recent projects, most of which were theatre pieces or short films created in collaboration with artists, scholars and people who have experienced migration, in order to provide them with a space to make their voice heard.
One of these project was “To be [defined]” an artistic anthropological exhibition held in 2018 in La Valletta, that dealt with past and contemporary experiences of displacement, using objects as its main tool and focus.
During the second half of the afternoon we used some basic theatre exercises to experiment different ways of expressing ourself and communicating with the others. We worked especially on our body language and how it is possible to communicate effectively just by paying attention to the space surrounding us and the position of our bodies. We ended the day discussing briefly the meaning of the word “home” for us and sharing our views about the objects we connect to mobility and migration.