Settling in History: Reflections on 'Turkish Memories' in Vienna
(Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity Utrecht University)
Paper short abstract:
In this article the increasing amount of museum exhibitions in Vienna dealing with long neglected (hi)stories of migration, particularly those of former 'guest workers' from Turkey, are revisited in light of the prevalent enemy image of the 'Turk' reverberating in the urban heritage and narratives.
Paper long abstract:
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the recruitment agreement with Turkey as well as former Yugoslavia, Vienna's municipality announced the funding of the project "The Migration Collection" (Migration sammeln) in cooperation with the Wien Museum, a significant place for the city's collective memory. By collecting objects from the migrant communities of former 'guest workers' that can tell their (hi)stories of moving, settling and staying, this project intends to finally acknowledge (symbolically) migrants' constitutive impact on the city.
Simultaneously, Vienna's historicised city centre brims over with Habsburg nostalgia as well as commemorative references to the Siege of Vienna by the Ottoman army in 1529 and 1683. The reductive enemy image of the 'Turk' conveyed through the latter, merging feelings of threat as well as a triumphant superiority, had been flexibly adapted and instrumentalised throughout the centuries, and in recent decades increasingly conflated with migrants from Turkey and Muslims in general (Heiss and Feichtinger 2013).
In this article the (usually temporary) museum exhibitions in Vienna that attempt to tell the long neglected (hi)stories of migration, particularly those of former 'guest workers' from Turkey, are revisited in light of the (usually permanent) exhibitions on the Siege of Vienna and the divergent dynamics emanating from the sustained enemy image of the 'Turk'. Particular attention is paid to the difficulties of the object collection and the tensions arising once they settle into the archive.
Museums in transformation: linking places and people through migratory objects