Exhibiting Migration and Gender. Companion Reader: Reflections, Response & Resilience

WP7: Exhibiting Migration and Gender

The Barbados Museum & Historical Society was appointed to implement the activity entitled ‘Exhibiting Migration and Gender’, a deliverable of the EU-LAC Museums Project. This companion Reader, ‘REFLECTIONS, RESPONSES AND RESILIENCE’ draws on a number of reports produced by The University of the West Indies project team for Work Package 7.

Migration has always been imbued with gender. Ideologies of gender were already at play before enslaved women and men were joined by indentured Indian labourers in the Caribbean and the Americas as the new unfree and abused labour forces. Migrations of gender operate in the physical presence or absence of women or men. The problematic treatment of relations of gender as synonymous with women, results in the tendency to interpret an absence of a focus on the visibility of women as an absence of ideologies of gender. Women were always already in migration from the pre-Colombian antecedents to the contemporary period. Treating ‘gender’ and ‘women’ as synonymous interchangeable terms creates analytical defficiencies in comprehending how sex and gender regimes have worked continuously through migration schemes to affect Caribbean citizens, both within the region and in the Diaspora.

The representation of migration and diaspora has thus been addressed through divergent tropes – social, cultural, political, some which places both artwork and historians and, by extension, the author and artist, in the comfortably relatable situation of an extension of British imperialism’s legacy which remains redolent of the past, often nostalgic, a distinctly isolated relation with somewhat exotic roots. These have been primarily executed in survey and thematic exhibitions, most of which have been initiated, funded and toured by major institutions in the metropolitan centres but most of which have never even been shown in the affected regions—a major imbalance that needs to be corrected. The responses generated through the various exhibitionary activities, have suggested that Work Programme 7 has succeeded in redressing this museological injustice.

 

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