Rethinking diasporas, redefining nations. Representations of African diaspora formations in museums and exhibitions.

Academy Reasearch Fellow project, funded by the Academy of Finland for the years 2015-2020.

This ethnographic, multidisciplinary research project continues my earlier studies on the theoretical premises of (African/black) diaspora studies, research on migration and ethnic relations, transnationalism, race/racism/anti-racism, and questions concerning minorities and knowledge production.

Rethinking diasporas, redefining nations. Representations of African diaspora formations in museums and exhibitions.
MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) in Brooklyn, June 2016. Photo: Anna Rastas.

Research materials that I have gathered by doing field work among diaspora communities and in museums in Europe, Africa and the U.S., as well as by doing netnography (ethnographic research on-line), make visible the diversity of diaspora communities as well as the global circulation of diaspora cultures. This allows examination of the social and cultural transformations caused by migration and increasing diversity in contemporary societies. The study also focuses on the changing roles of art and heritage institutions, with a special focus on museums.

The partners of the project include colleagues who have been involved in organizing the Afroeuropeans conferences since 2008, and many other researchers, artists and activists in Europe, Africa and the U.S. The following persons have worked on the project as researchers or research assistants: Wisam Elfadl, Elina Seye, Liban Sheikh, Kristiina Poola, Warda Ahmed, Sanna Poelman, Jenni Nurmeniemi, Minna Lienonen, Janina Pankko, and Carol Dixon.

Goree Island. Fieldwork in Dakar in February-March 2020. Photo: Anna Rastas.

Project’s events

  • Museums as spaces for anti-racism. Panel (Mat 05 a and b) at the SIEF2021 15th Congress: “Breaking the rules? Power, participation, transgression” Helsinki, Finland 21-24 June 2021. Conveners: Anna Rastas (Tampere University) and Carol Ann Dixon (University of Sheffield).
  • Museums and anti-racism, minisymposium 12.04.2018-13.04.2018. University of Tampere.
  • 6th Afroeuropeans: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe Conference 06.07.2017-08.07.2017. Tampere.
  • Migration and Museums. The African Presence and the Cultural Heritage of European Societies, Symposium at the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas 21.05.2015-22.05.2015. Tampere.

Project’s publications

See Publications / Selected publications

Forthcoming, 2021: Anna Rastas & Leila Koivunen (eds) Marginaaleista museoihin (From Margins to Museums). Tampere: Vastapaino.

Selected talks and presentations

  • ”From margins to museums. Intersectional approaches to museum work.” (With Leila Koivunen.) 20th Nordic Migration Research Conference and 17TH ETMU Conference / WS 18, Helsinki 11. – 13. 1. 2021.
  • ”Museums and knowledge production of, and with, African diasporas in Europe.” Université Cheikh Anta Diop, URICA/ETHOS 02.03.2020.
  • “Safer spaces for all the children. Cultural production and the neglect of children’s perspectives in multiethnic societies.” International Children’s Culture Forum 30.09.2019. Tampere, Finland.
  • “Crossing boundaries: African diaspora artists’ involvements in anti-racism in Europe.” Immigration, Cultural Participation and New Forms of Political Solidarity, University of Liège 25.09.2019.
  • “Multiple belonging and representations of African diaspora(s) in museums and exhibitions. 14th SIEF Congress 16.04.2019. Santiago de Compostela.
  • ”Diasporatutkijana museoissa” [Doing research on diasporas in museums]. Institute of Migration 24.04.2019, Turku.
  • ”Afrikkalaisten diaspora ja dekolonisaation vaatimus” [African diaspora and discussions on decolonization]. University of Turku 06.04.2018.
  • “Combining two different African diaspora studies traditions”. ASWAD 9th Worldwide African Diaspora Biennial Conference 10.11.2017, Sevilla.
  • “In Search of the African Diasporas in Northern Europe”. Department of African American and African Studies, UC Davis 31.01.2018.
  • “Collaborative methods and anti-racism in ethnographic projects”. University of Amsterdam 19.10.2017.
Young participants of one of the project’s workshops, at Helinä Rautavaara Museum in June 2019, were inspired by Warda Ahmed’s work.