Multimedia virtual museum on South Asian migrant identity to open in January

The digital space arose from a collaboration among researchers, scholars and the University of Minnesota Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.


The virtual museum is set to launch Jan. 15, 2023. Photo courtesy of Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

by Sophia Zimmerman

The University of Minnesota Department of Asian and Middle Eastern studies will open a multimedia virtual museum on South Asian migrant identity in January.

Assistant professor Dr. Nida Sajid, doctoral student Pawan Sharma and Berlin-based curator Rituparna Rana worked together to assemble the collaborative exhibition.

The virtual museum is an extension of “Memory, Movement, Montage,” a research collaborative focused on navigating and highlighting diverse perspectives on migration. Titled “The South-Asian Migrant Identity: Narratives, Spaces and Constructs,” the project marks the first on display for the ongoing project, which will aim to update exhibitions each quarter.

“Through this project, I want to create a space where these diversities and heterogeneities exist together in the form of a multimedia primary and secondary resource bank,” Sharma said. Sharma’s work focuses on the sheer amount of identities and bodies of work contained within and produced by people from South Asia.

South Asia, the heavily populated region that includes modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, contains an expansive array of languages, religions and cultures.

Through the virtual museum, its curators hope to highlight the breadth and diversity of South Asian migrant identities. They plan to do so by incorporating multimedia from a variety of sources within the museum, including videos, scholarly articles, artist exhibitions and a scholarly lecture-focused podcast.

Their primary aim is to convey stories of migration narratives through the lens of migrant community members themselves, according to Rana and Sharma. They said they hope approaching the narrative collection from a grassroots perspective will assist in bridging the wide gap between researchers and the communities serving as their subjects.

According to Rana, the concept of migration is “much more than the mere physical phenomenon of moving from one place to another. It is a part of one’s identity, of how one describes oneself in relation to another, and how one is perceived by the other as well.”

Rana’s previous works have largely centered around themes of home, belonging, memory and nostalgia.

The virtual museum is officially set to launch on Jan. 15, 2023. It will be accessible at