Workshop: Peggy Levitt “Artifacts and allegiances: how museums put the nation and the world on display”

In the frame of the project „City-making: space, culture and identity“ and in collaboration with the Platform for Mobility and International Cooperation of Ethnologists and Cultural Anthropologists professor Peggy Levitt (Department of Sociology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, SAD) held a workshop with students on Friday, March 31 2017 at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb.


According to some, we live in a world of superdiversity in which people from an increasing number of countries, with increasingly varied class, racial, and legal statuses, live in the same urban space. The question of the day becomes how do we get along? In this workshop I want to bring into our scholarly conversation a piece that so often gets left out. The fact that culture migrates along with people to produce world music, world literature, and the like means that culture both reflects and should be part of the tool kit we have to respond to the challenges of diversity.

Museums are one type of cultural institution where this work is being done. Participants in this workshop will read an abstract of my book, Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display, which is about how museums around the world are responding to immigration and globalization. After some discussion, students will work in groups to “create a museum” or “design an exhibition”, that, in some way, addresses the challenges of creating a more diverse city. To be sure, what happens inside museums is not going to solve the problem of inequality. But museums, and cultural institutions in general, can provide a space for finding common ground, for renegotiating the national self-portrait, and for convening the difficult conversations that so desperately need to happen. Indeed, it is their responsibility to do so.

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PEGGY LEVITT is Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College and a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. She is also the co-director of the Transnational Studies Initiative at Harvard. Her new book, Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display was published by the University of California Press in July of 2015.

Peggy Levitt was a Robert Schuman Fellow at the European University Institute in Summer 2015 and the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies’ Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the American University of Cairo in March 2015. In 2014, she received an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Maastricht University, held the Astor Visiting Professorship at Oxford University, and was a guest professor at the University of Vienna. She was a Senior Visiting Scholar at the Universities of Deusto (Bilbao), Latvia, and Valencia in 2013, the Visiting International Fellow at the Vrije University in Amsterdam from 2010-2012 and the Willie Brandt Guest Professor at the University of Malmö in 2009. She received an Ethel-Jane Westfelt Bunting Fellowship from the School for Advanced Research in 2010. The MacArthur Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council have all supported her work.

Her books include Religion on the Edge (Oxford University Press, 2012), God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing American Religious Landscape (New Press, 2007), The Transnational Studies Reader (Routledge, 2007), The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation (Russell Sage, 2002), and The Transnational Villagers (UC Press, 2001). She has also edited special volumes of Racial and Ethnic Studies, International Migration Review, Global Networks, Mobilities, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. A film based on her work, Art Across Borders, came out in 2009.

Her current research examines global citizenship and global social protection. In a world on the move, how are people protected and provided for outside the traditional framework of the nation-state? Where do the values, skills and political agendas come from that enable us to embrace diversity next door and across the globe?

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  • Project is supported by Croatian Science Foundation
  • Project leading institution: Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb
  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
  • Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Department of Geography