Cultural History: Migration, Postmigration and Contemporary Arts: Visual arts, theatre and literature

Course content

In recent decades, migration and postmigration have become perspectives of increasing importance in contemporary arts and studies of art and culture. At the same time, a surge of postcolonial critique has effectively managed to introduce new concerns into art and academia. In this course, we will examine these interconnected perspectives in and on contemporary arts by engaging with theoretical writings and a range of works drawn primarily from the visual arts. Literature and theatre (understood broadly and including performance art) will also be given some consideration.


In the 20th and 21st centuries, a growing number of people have left their homes to cross state borders and settle in another country. No matter whether they have moved in search of a better life or been forcibly displaced by war, destitution, persecution or environmental disaster, they have contributed to the pluralisation and hybridisation of cultures and identities in receiving countries. Adopting migrant and postcolonial perspectives, this course examines how contemporary artists have grappled with these transformations and the conflicts and issues they have brought to the fore. Furthermore, a postmigrant perspective will be introduced as a means of situating artistic interrogations of colonialism and postcolonialism within a more encompassing societal and historical process of transformation. The concept of postmigration does not refer to a societal state of affairs in which migration has ended, but to a set of problematics and struggles over identity, history, belonging and community originating in the obsession with migration, migrants and migrantisising discourses which permeates contemporary European societies. It thus provides a frame for understanding how postcolonial critique ties in with current pluralisation processes in society at large.


The course aims to deepen insight into the effects of migration and postmigration as well as honing students’ methodological competencies in analysing artistic phenomena that can be viewed as the result of the confluence of different cultures blending together, or as spotlighting the fault lines of postmigrant societies. To this end, we will engage with some key concepts and theories relevant to the study of a range of cultural and artistic phenomena: migration and postmigration, citizenship, (trans)cultural identity and belonging, collective memory, post- and decolonial thinking, racialisation and whiteness, migratory aesthetics, hybridisation and cultural translation. We will read texts by scholars such as Homi Bhabha, Walter D. Mignolo, Paula Moya, Astrid Erll, Andreas Huyssen and Marsha Meskimmon. Indicative artists/projects included in the course: Ai Weiwei, Isaac Julien, Jeannette Ehlers, Nanna Debois Buhl, Danh Vo, Zadie Smith, 100% Copenhagen and aspects of postmigrant theatre in Berlin.


Moderne Kultur og Litteraturvidenskab

Suggested reading:

Sten Pultz Moslund, Anne Ring Petersen and Moritz Schramm, eds, The Culture of Migration: Politics, Aesthetics and Histories, London: I.B. Tauris 2015.

Anne Ring Petersen, Migration into art: Transcultural identities and art-making in a globalized world, Manchester: Manchester University Press 2017.

Koordineret med Anna Meera Gaonkars ’tapas’-kursus på LITs modul ”Aktuel kulturforskning”
(”The course can be taken separately, but is organised as one out of two courses
focusing on migration and postmigration this semester, the other one revolving
around contemporary literature and film”).

Dette kursus udbydes til modulerne 2, 4, 5 og 6c på Litteraturvidenskab, 2015-ordningen samt til modulerne 2, 3 og 7 på Moderne Kultur, 2015-ordningen. .
Hvis du er indskrevet på 2015-ordningen på Moderne Kultur eller Litteraturvidenskab, skal du tilmelde dig både et kursus i Kulturhistorisk emne, Forløb 1 (c, d eller e) ELLER Aktuel kulturforskning a OG et kursus i Kulturhistorisk emne Forløb 2 (c, d eller e) ELLER Aktuel kulturforskning B. I undervisningstilmeldingsperioden tilmelder du dig begge forløb. Du skal vælge et kursus i både Forløb 1 og 2. Det er IKKE muligt at vælge at følge f.eks. 2 Forløb 1 eller 2 Forløb 2.
This course can be taken separately but is organised as one out of two courses focusing on migration and postmigration, the other one revolving around literature and film. The course belongs to the first part of a ‘Cultural History’ module in Modern Culture [Kulturhistorisk emne] /‘Contemporary Cultural Studies’ module in Comparative Literature [Aktuel kulturforskning]. Students are expected to complete two mandatory assignments to advance to the second part of the module. The course will run in English. Students can choose whether to hand in the concluding exam project (related to the second part of the module) in Danish or English.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Each part of the course comprises a syllabus of 500-700 standard pages (of 2,400 keystrokes, i.e. 1,000-1,400 standard pages in total).
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  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 84
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 98
  • English
  • 210