Book Publication: Public Representations of Immigrants in Museums. Exhibition and Exposure in France and Germany

Porsché, Yannik (2018) Public Representations of Immigrants in Museums. Exhibition and Exposure in France and Germany, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., download from:

This book offers an interactionist perspective on theories of public representation, knowledge and immigration in museum institutions. Examining how a Franco-German museum exhibition represents immigrants and exposes public stereotypes, the analysis follows the process of the production and reception of the exhibition as it travelled from Paris to Berlin. The author proposes a microsociological contextualisation analysis integrating discourse analysis and ethnography to compare formats of museum work, social interaction in the exhibition and mass media debates. Visitor reception of the different exhibition versions reveals the symbolic nature of interactions in museums, for example concerning conflicting political voices and accusations of censorship. Depending on the institutional context, interactions in the museums are geared towards securing immigrants a place in national collective memory, towards carrying out debate on integration, or providing opportunities for personal encounters and reflection beyond national categorisation. This book will appeal to students and researchers interested in work on the intersection of sociology, cultural studies, and discursive psychology, in methods of discourse analysis and ethnography; and to practitioners working in museums.



“What do people do in museums? Surrounded by exhibits, speaking to tour-guides or reading a catalogue and press reviews, they engage in meaning-making practices. This study of a French-German exhibition makes a powerful case for combining interaction analysis and ethnography in order to carry out empirically and theoretically insightful research on public discourse – a must-read for students and researchers interested in qualitative approaches to Discourse Studies.” (Professor Johannes Angermuller, Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick, UK) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Through three museums presenting the same-but-very-different exhibition on immigration, Yannik Porsché guides us on a fascinating journey from Paris to Berlin. The museum institutions not only produce representations of immigrants, but also tell us a great deal about those who do the representing. This study shows how, as epistemic spaces, museums orchestrate and discipline discourse about their objects. Moreover, it reveals how, as interactional spaces, they – sometimes unwillingly – enable other voices and bodies to speak through and in them. An important book!” (Professor Lorenza Mondada, Chair of general linguistics and French linguistics, University of Basel, Switzerland) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“In this highly original comparative study, Yannik Porsché opens a mysterious black box: that of the institutional epistemics of how museums construct knowledge. The study is a much needed corrective to our understanding of museums as a neutral storage space for collective memories—and a fantastic extension of the notion of epistemic cultures to the productive space at the intersection of the museum, the media and science.” (Professor Karin Knorr Cetina, Chair of the Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, USA)