To Ph.D. student Marc Sanko, his historical research is not just about the past. It involves working with living communities and enabling them define their own heritage. This is why he is excited to join Latitude 36, an audio-visual production company out of London, for work on a community project looking at global Maltese migration. The fall, Marc was recruited to be the lead historian for North American Maltese migration by Latitude 36 as they prepare to run exhibits as part of Valletta 2018.
Valletta, Malta’s capital city was awarded the title of “European Capital of Culture” for 2018, a rotating celebration funded through the EU and host nations. Latitude 36, and Marc’s role within the project, is to create an interactive physical exhibit and a documentary detailing Maltese migration as part of the overall cultural and heritage celebrations. They will join efforts from many other companies to create various forms of art, culture, and heritage to enhance Valletta 2018’s celebrations.
The project will launch as a physical exhibit in 2018 in Malta's capital and as a documentary in late 2018. Marc will travel to Malta in 2018 to do a talk about the project and his research used in the project.
The exhibit will be a traveling trunk which will physically visit Maltese communities all around the world and collect the stories of these immigrants. Inside the trunk will be prompts like a telephone, in which people can pick up and respond to questions that will be asked about their migration experience. The responses will be stored and collected to create a unique oral history. In addition, the trunk will provide people the opportunity to donate photographs by scanning them digitally. The trunk will return to Malta by 2018 to be on display during the heritage celebrations.
Marc will be involved in laying the ground work for the North American tour, including using both previous and future research as background in the documentary and using his connections in the Maltese communities to obtain the oral histories.
“Basically my role will be to write the historical narrative for this part of the world in regards to Maltese immigrants to be used in the documentary and also help fill out the physical exhibit. I will also act as a go-between for the project, setting up events, conducting further oral histories, etc. for the team,” he said.
Marc was asked to be a part of this project due to his dissertation research involvement with Maltese communities in Detroit, MI and Toronto, Canada. His Master’s thesis focused on the use of the Catholic Church by the immigrant community in Detroit as a tool to retain their culture amidst assimilation pressures in the United States. His dissertation has expanded on this research to explore the ways the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Malta operate in an imperial world in regards to immigration and how that affected those attempting to create Maltese communities in North America.
Outside of written work, Marc has also worked directly with Maltese community in Detroit. He recently was involved with efforts to launch a website which both creates a digital archive for the community and also serves as an active online presence for them that allows the community to publicize events, manage membership in the club, and advertise themselves.
This partnership came about through a research trip to Europe this past fall. Marc was able to conduct research in England and Malta through department funding which enabled these connections.
“While in Malta I did some archival research but most of my time was spent making connections with historical projects, finding ways to blend my current oral history and digital history project in North America with ongoing projects in Malta. I met with the founder of this Latitude 36 project several times in Malta and that is what sealed the deal for a partnership between our project in Detroit and theirs,” Marc said.