Migration - research on migrations to foreign worlds

© exc

What do foreigners change in our living environment, and what changes? And what happens to us when we are in a foreign country? The exhibition “Small disciplines – great potential” presents research findings from the small disciplines of the humanities in the field of migration. The contributions range from Celtic garment jewellery, which can be used to trace movements of migration, to a cross from Papua New Guinea and its history in the Christian mission, and to “migration food”, the kebab and its route to Germany, or the Mediterranean spice cumin and its route to the Westphalian sausage bread (Wurstebrot).

  • Migration – people and ideas

    Migration is one of the characteristics of human society. But the notion of mobile populations, migrating ideas and technologies is often contrasted with the notion of a society’s fixed borders. Often enough, though, stability and success are heavily dependent on the influence and absorption of new technologies, ideas and people from outside. There are many reasons for migration, and the distances travelled vary. Better living and work opportunities are often the cause, with migration being the result of climate changes, natural disasters, or political and social events. For those emigrating, migration is not a problem, but rather the solution to a problem. However, this is often viewed with scepticism by the host societies, even though they can often benefit from the many new ideas that immigration brings.


    The exhibition explores perceptions and changes on both sides: What do foreigners change in our living environment, and what changes? And what happens to us when we are in a foreign country?


    When people migrate, they take their customs, traditions and ideas with them to their new home. This is particularly evident in the case of food. The most revolutionary foodstuff to migrate was grain, which came to Europe in the Neolithic period with people from the Orient and triggered the so-called “Neolithic Revolution” here, too: namely, the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer and stockbreeder. It was this that enabled our complex societies to emerge.


    Besides necessity, what also motivates people to migrate is curiosity. People have always been interested in travelling to distant worlds. There have been travelogues since ancient times, and printed travel guides since the 16th century. We can still read today about the customs of foreign cultures. People living for a longer period of time in another country see their own tastes and ideas merge with those of their new country. We assimilate.


    Article from the catalogue of the exhibition “Small disciplines – great potential”


From Westphalia to the South Seas

The video showcasing the discipline of non-European history uses a cross from Papua New Guinea to show that, when missionaries from Münster-Hiltrup took their religion all over the world, this changed the lives of the locals, as well as Christianity itself.

© exc

Migration food: kebab

Filled with meat, salad, vegetables and sauce, the kebab is an integral part of German food culture. Brought to Germany by Turkish guest workers in the 1970s, it is what researchers call “migration food”. The discipline of Islamic studies shows in a series of pictures what culinary traditions have to do with how migrants cultivate their identity.


© exc

Elaborate dress pins strewn along the route

Necessity often drives people to undertake a journey. The Celts travelled towards southern and south-eastern Europe in 500 BCE. Pre- and protohistoric archaeologists have been able to reconstruct the routes using the dress pins left behind.

© exc

New genre of the travel guide

The 16th and 17th centuries saw the upper classes begin to embark on educational journeys, the first travel guides, often in Latin, being printed for precisely this purpose. As the discipline of Latin philology shows, people then learnt just like today about the customs and traditions of other countries.

© exc

How migration changes food cultures

How does the Mediterranean spice cumin end up in Westphalian sausage bread (Wurstebrot)? The discipline of cultural anthropology shows how migration changes food cultures.

© Nina Romming

Migration for the purposes of education

As early as 1876, seven Chinese officers came to Bochum, Wilhelmshaven and Kiel. As the discipline of sinology shows, the migration of Chinese people for the purposes of education continues to this day, with German universities currently hosting 40,000 Chinese students.