The project lasts from September 2019 until August 2023 and has now – in September 2021 – collected 164 interviews from former migrants and their descendants in the seven participating countries.
All partners describe and explore a migration process in their country (their subproject) in a shorter, separate article in a joint online publication.
As all work has been done by using the same interview guides, by getting joint training, and by continuously discussing the ethical end methodological challenges of our approaches, some of the museum professionals involved will, in addition, write these scientific articles.
In sum, three of the articles will lead to a deeper understanding of the possibilities and pitfalls when conducting a large-scale cooperation project on sensitive cultural heritage in Europe, how the involved museum professionals affect each other and contribute to synergy effects throughout the project period, as well as the importance and benefits of relevant methods, theories, and approaches. In addition, three articles will explore in detail three of the project’s main findings – two regarding the implications related to openness vs. silence and one the topic of Istrian post-war exodus.
The article takes its starting point in more than 160 personal narratives from former migrants, their children, and grandchildren. The testimonies have been collected by cultural-history museums in seven European countries – Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Croatia – and provide a haunting impression of the long-term consequences of war and forced migration for at least three generations. The research aimed at understanding how exactly the Untold and the silence of the first generation – the not-sharing of what they, as time witnesses, experienced – can be sensed by their children and grandchildren and influence their lives, family relations and the surrounding society in a negative way. The findings show that the need for personal and public information by the second and third generations cannot be overestimated and that sharing and getting to know could be a key to more healthy relations between family members and within communities.
The emigration of Istrian Italians after the Second World War, most often called the “Exodus”, has been a frequent topic of many historical and anthropological studies. This paper reports on new findings based on the EU project Identity on the Line, which studied and interpreted a series of involuntary migrations and unwanted consequences for peoples, communities and individuals in Europe in the middle of the 20th century. In the research of the Istrian “Exodus”, an effort was made to find new testimonies and stories and reach voices that had not been “heard” thus far. In this process, it became obvious that the status and fate of the Istrian Italians who did not emigrate, the so-called “Rimasti” (less studied so far) is very complex due to the ambivalent relationship with the emigrated Istrian Italians (the “Esuli”) as well as with the newly created social environment. Photographs and statements from both communities were collected and meant to be used for two exhibitions, films and publications, thus bringing to light their intimate accounts (some of which were told for the first time), presenting them in a public space. This transformation necessarily implied very careful and sensitive cooperation with the informants, with the aim of making their traumas more visible, as well as establishing museums as institutions where increased efforts are made to communicate “difficult heritage”.