'Curating Development' works with migrants from the Philippines, largely female, doing care work in London and Hong Kong (www.curatingdevelopment.com). This project used 'museum as method' to explore the lives of migrant care workers in a participatory exhibition-making process. Working with objects, artworks and images that are not normally collected by museums, the Curating Development project explores how curatorial strategies can sustain migrants, advance public understanding of migration issues, and support NGO advocacy. It culminated in an exhibition that reversed the typical museum practice of displaying artefacts and artworks from existing collections. Instead, project participants shared their own store of social media images, sentimental objects carried with them, and gifts to be sent home to family. They participants made these into art, accompanied by video installations and drawings from collaborating fine artists, intended for public display as a single collection and archive - their own museum of migration.  With this approach, we extended Andre Malraux' work on Museum without Walls/Musée Imaginaire (1965), taking the work beyond the museum's walls. Our exhibition enters migrants’ private spaces, their dreams, their contributions to family and country. Rather than using our archive as a store, their creating, curating and displaying from within it became a way to make hidden things public and foster debate.  

Our analysis evaluates the outcomes of this exhibition-making process for participants and collaborators. For them, and for the wider Filipino community, our curatorial methodology generated both new ways of understanding migration and potentials to bring their insights into the space of policymaking. In breaking the museum's walls, migrants were able to recognize and visualize their role in development in the Philippines, as well as their practices of investment and self-care.

Bios:

Prof Mark Johnson is an anthropologist of global gender, with interests in gender/sexuality, landscape and material culture, migration and transnationalism. Author of Beauty and Power (Oxford, 1997), he is PI of the UK AHRC Curating Development project (2016-18), investigating Filipino migrants’ contributions to development. He also leads the British Academy project, Big Data, Live Methods and Surveillance Subjectivities (2016-18) exploring perceptions and experiences of surveillance among Filipino and British transnationals in Hong Kong, and the RCUK GCRF GlobalGRACE (Global Gender and Cultures of Equality, 2017 - 2021) project, investigating the production of cultures of equality in fragile contexts across the world.

Dr Deirdre McKay (Reader in Geography, Keele University) researches indigenous peoples, development and migration. She is the author of Global Filipinos (Indiana, 2012) and An Archipelago of Care (Indiana, 2016). She has worked with CIDA and AusAID-funded projects in the Philippines and with Filipino migrant communities in Canada, Hong Kong, London and online. She interested in personal stories of development, migration strategies, and people’s sense of self, and how these phenomena are being reshaped by social media. Her current projects explore upcycled plastic arts and crafts, ‘private aid’ after natural disasters, and the potential for migrants to document their development contributions through community arts. She is CI on the UK AHRC-funded Curating Development Project.