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Swissmakers in the 21st century - A participative exhibition on the naturalization process in Switzerland

English title Swissmakers in the 21st century - A participative exhibition on the naturalization process in Switzerland
Applicant Dahinden Janine
Number 191615
Funding scheme Agora
Research institution Maison d'analyse des processus sociaux MAPS Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.06.2020 - 30.11.2022
Approved amount 199'969.00
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Keywords (7)

exhibition; citizenship; political participation; Swiss identity; participatory methodology; naturalization; diversity

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Dans les débats actuels sur la naturalisation, « l’identité suisse » est souvent réduite à une vision stéréotypée qui ne correspond pas à la diversité actuelle de la Suisse, où 43% de la population résidente a des origines liées à la migration. « Les faiseur·euse·s de Suisses au XIXème Siècle » est un projet d’exposition participative qui propose de créer une plateforme de dialogue autour de ces questions sensibles.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du projet

Dans ce projet, nous partons des résultats d’une étude sur l’implémentation de la naturalisation en Suisse pour créer une exposition, en collaboration avec le Musée gruérien et le photographe Francesco Ragusa. Comme le rôle des practitien·ne·s de la naturalisation est fondamental dans la procédure, le projet adopte une démarche participative pour inclure leurs perspectives. Le public fera l’expérience de la naturalisation, mis tour à tour à la place de décideur·euse et de candidat·e.

D’autre part, l’exposition sera utilisée comme base pour développer un dialogue avec différents publics autour de ces questions. Un programme d’événements parallèles sera établi avec collaborations différents partenaires culturels, associatifs et publics. Une offre pédagogique sera proposée aux classes de jeunes (entre 13 – 18 ans) qui visitent l’exposition. Enfin, une publication permettra de laisser une trace du projet et d’approfondir certains éléments traités dans l’exposition.

 

Contexte scientifique et social du projet

La naturalisation et l’identité nationale sont des sujets sensibles et hautement débattus en Suisse. La procédure de naturalisation et les critères d’évaluation sont souvent évoqués de manière simplificatrice. Ce projet suscite des débats plus nuancés en touchant celles et ceux qui participent à la construction des discours sur la nationalité et la diversité, aujourd’hui et dans le futur.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.03.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
142020 NCCR On the Move: The Migration-Mobility Nexus (phase I) 01.06.2014 National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs)

Abstract

Naturalization and national identity are hot topics in current societal debates in Switzerland, as exemplified by the public discussion around popular votes or individual naturalization decisions. In this context, the complexity of the naturalization process and evaluation criteria is often simplified in an exaggerated manner and the ‘Swiss identity’ is often reduced to a stereotyped vision, one which does not correspond to the diversity of the Swiss population. There is therefore a need to build a public dialogue on naturalization and Swiss identity, based on scientific knowledge. This SNF Agora project proposal builds on a research project that studies the implementation of naturalization by institutional and individual state actors and that was carried out from 2014 to 2019. That project was funded by the SNFS in the framework of the nccr - on the move (Phase I). In that research, we showed that individuals who are in charge of handling individual naturalization applications have a large room for manoeuvre and that their practices are not only based on the legislation but also on ideas about what a good Swiss citizen should be. These latter ideas are part of larger discourses on ‘Swissness’ and otherness. Based on these results, we identify the need to establish a dialogue with, on the one side, naturalization practitioners, and on the other side, with a diverse range of actors who all contribute in their own way to the current public discourses on naturalization and Swiss national identity. This Agora project proposes an innovative and participative communication strategy which is built around a museum exhibition. In a first step we address naturalization practitioners to include their perspective in the development of an exhibition, taking this opportunity to trigger self-reflection on their practices. The exhibition will include documentary photographic material on the spaces and people of the ‘manufacture’ of the new Swiss citizens, as well as texts and audio-visual documents. Some of this material will be issued from the ethnographic data of the NCCR project, while other materials will result from the established dialogue with naturalization practitioners, who will be offered a space to share their experience. In a second step, the exhibition itself will turn into a platform to build a dialogue with some key audiences, in order to become a part of the public discussions on naturalization and Swiss identity. Addressing this topic in a museum space contributes to make it part of the public discourse, as the exhibition will get media and public attention. However, we develop three further communication instruments that complement the exhibition and allow it to reach some specific audiences and therefore to shape the current and future discourses on nationality and diversity. The instruments are a programme of parallel events, an education programme targeting school students aged 13 to 18 years old, and an open access publication.We collaborate with the Musée gruérien to implement this public outreach project in the local context of the canton of Fribourg. This local anchorage is particularly relevant because identity production is a complex mechanism that is shaped not only by universal values and national references, but that also diverges from one local context to another. In the federalist Swiss system, this is of crucial importance. We aim to develop a interactive outreach methodology that could be applied in other local contexts in the future.
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