How does a refugee boat symbolize heritage? What heritage does a refugee boat symbolize? How is the symbolic image of a refugee boat used in heritage production by taking part in political debates and conflicts? What function does refugee heritage have in today’s public domain and what is the role of museums, heritage sites and memorial sites in this public domain?
These are all core questions for examining the phenomenon of forced and undocumented migration, which is examined in this paper by focusing on the heritage produced by the Vietnamese refugee diaspora following the Vietnam War (1955–1975).
Four themes of refugee heritage are discussed: the function of ‘difficult histories’ in professional storytelling, the alternative exhibition arenas, such as ‘liquid museums’, the transnational and global interpretations of ‘cosmopolitan heritage’ and the ideas of ‘heritage diplomacy’ for directing shared uses of refugee heritage in post-conflicts.
Torgrim Sneve Guttormsen’s seminar on the topic at ANU was a part of the ongoing research project on Immigrant Heritage.