Walter Benjamin at Pier 21: Immigration, identity, and a history of awakening
LE3 .A278 2014
Master of Arts
Social and Political Thought
This work takes the critical perspectives of Walter Benjamin into the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and analyzes its practices of preservation of immigration history and policy in Canada. It looks at how the three exhibit spaces (permanent, temporary, and the gift shop) lend authority to a state-based construction of immigration history in Canada and lack a significant representation of a historical narrative from the perspectives of the forgotten (Benjamin 2002; 155). Based on Benjamin’s characterization of museums as “dream houses of the collective” (Schwartz 2001; 1728) I offer insight into the potential that the museum presents to the public as a place for the self-representation of various immigrant identities and a more dynamic understanding of national identity.
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