chapter  2
A monument for boat refugees
Ritual and the art of liminality
ByWilliam Arfman
Pages 16

Questions about victimhood are at the forefront of current public debates about the European migration crisis. Rather than emphasizing the increasing polarization resulting from these debates, however, this chapter attempts to make sense of the ways in which attitudes towards migration are currently given shape by studying an interactive art installation called Monument for Boat Refugees. Taking a ritual studies approach, which focuses on the art project’s symbolism, repetition and performativity, it is argued that the artist takes participants simultaneously into the limited liminal arena of the art installation as well as the much larger liminal arena of the European migration crisis as a whole. Within that liminal setting, no clear message about the victimhood of migrants is put forward, instead leaving room for interactive reflection upon a variety of possible attitudes. Ultimately, the chapter argues for the acknowledgment of the importance of liminality and ambiguity when trying to make sense of the cultural complexity of victimhood today.