Panel I: New Perspectives for a Postmigrant Europe
Regina Römhild (Humboldt U, Berlin, Germany): Silencing a Migrant Past: Neglected Genealogies of European Self-Making in Cross-Mediterranean Mobilities and Entanglements
It is widely held that processes of Othering and bordering are constitutive for the powerful construction of an autonomous, sovereign, and superior European Self. Within these processes, however, the relevance of and dependency on long-standing entanglements, mobilities and exchanges with these ‘Others’ across these borders are being made invisible. Hence, Othering and bordering can be seen as imperial forms of governing by actively forgetting and demerging the ‘familiar’ of past circulations and connections. With a view across the Mediterranean, this paper will focus on the paradox of fragmenting the constant flow of migrants and refugees in disconnected instants of ‘new arrivals’ that seem to require ‘new’ politics of bordering and integration. It is shown that not only migrations but also border politics draw and rely on long-standing (post)colonial histories of cross-Mediterranean Afropean and Eurasian entanglements. It will be argued that critical migration and Europeanization studies need to historicize their own conceptions of migration in order to self-critically reflect on their own contributions to the demerging politics of EU-European presentism.
Francesca Pegorer (UBC Vancouver): From Friuli, Looking East: Multiple Belongings Between Literature and Autoethnography
Friuli, in Northern Italy, is located at the crossing of multiple cultural, linguistic and historical borders. Stretched betwixt and between the old Austrian Empire and the Italian Republic, Western Europe and the Balkans, its linguistic and cultural practices have proven quite resilient. At the same time they have largely remained invisible to outsiders, confined within the affective dimension of the home and the local community, and seen as relics of a rural past.However, in very recent years a sort of postmigrant awareness has been emerging in the region, expressed most evidently through a revival (both in the public and in the private sphere) of the Friulian language, but also through a de-centering of the gaze towards Eastern Europe. The plurality of life-stories and the multiplicity of backgrounds that inform Friulian society and history is well represented by Angelo Floramo’s literary works, as well as by the catalogue of Friulian publishing house La Bottega Errante (“The Wandering Workshop”). Floramo and La Bottega Errante’s successful endeavors offer valuable insight on the possibilities that arise from a postmigrant perspective. This includes looking at the metalevel of cultural production as social practice, and as part of the collective discourse and confrontation around belonging (that includes contemporary migration flows). The analysis will be integrated with the (Friulian) author’s autoethnographic perspective on home-ing and belonging.
Moritz Schramm (SDU): Radical Diversity: A New Narrative for Postmigrant Europe?
In contemporary intellectual and artistic debates in Germany, the concept of ’radical diversity’ has become an important point of reference. Growing out of the artistic work of the Maxim Gorki-Theatre in Berlin, artists like Sasha Marianna Salzmann and Max Czollek use the concept as a critical intervention against notions of homogenity and the power of ascribed identities. In the paper I will explore this new concept and discuss its potential for developing a new narrative for a postmigratory Europe, which is fundamentally shaped by earlier and ongoing migration movements. In particular, I will look at contemporary novels by writers such as Jesper Wung Sung (Den anden gren/The other branch), Thomas Boberg (Africanas) and Salzmann (Ausser ich/Besides myself), and discuss the aesthetics of radical diversity in relation to more inclusive narratives about Europe and European identity. While Europe often is defined through the notion of common heritage, religion and culture, the concept of radical diversity opens for a more inclusive understanding of Europe as a transnational space of negotiation, where postmigrant experiences play a major role for the history, the present and future of the continent.
Literature: Thomas Boberg: Africanas. Copenhagen: Gyldendal 2019; Max Czollek, Mirna Funk et.al. (eds.): Desintegration: Ein Kongress zeitgenössischer jüdischer Positionen / A Congress on Contemporary Jewish Positions. Kerber 2017; Max Czollek: Desintegriert Euch! Munich: Hanser Verlag 2018; Sasha Marianna Salzmann: Ausser ich. Berlin: Suhrkamp 2017, engl transl. Besides myself, Text Publishing Company 2019; Jesper Wung Sung: Den anden gren (The Other Brench), Copenhagen: Gyldendal 2018.
Panel II: Postmigrant Narratives in European Literature and Film
Markus Hallensleben (UBC Vancouver): Migrating into European History: From ‘Dangerous Affinities’ to Postmigrant Narratives
Scholars in European Social Studies adopted the term “postmigration” in 2010 to describe the process through which migration centrally contributes to the formation of plural societies and collective narratives of belonging (Petersen, Schramm, and Wiegand 2019). Their attempt to critically redefine migration studies and immigration societies was influenced by contemporary art productions of the “Postmigrant Theatre” at Ballhaus Naunynstraße and the Gorki Theater in Berlin (Sharifi 2016), which have artistically reclaimed the political agency for immigrants and refugees within German society since 2008. While the “Postmigrant Theatre” can be seen as a response to “aggressive identity-ascriptions and processes of othering” (Petersen and Schramm 2017), the new concept of postmigration originates in a socio-anthropological study of the mid-1990s that aimed to “De-Essentializ[e] Ethnicity” (Baumann and Sunier 1995) within super-diverse communities. However, the term “postmigration” was also used in German Studies with the goal of de-marginalizing second-generation migrant literature (Cheesman 1998). It was consequently approached within aesthetical terms in a study on “Transgressive Topographies in Turkish-German Post-Migrant Literature” (Lornsen 2008), which investigated, among other authors, Zafer Şenocak’s Perilous Kinship (Gefährliche Verwandtschaft 1998). Şenocak’s novel, by telling the story of a second-generation migrant from Turkey in Germany, deals with the “Dangerous Affinities” of Armenian Genocide and Holocaust, WW I and WW II Histories. I will therefore critically revisit its protagonist’s hybrid Jewish-German-Turkish identity as a first instance for a postmigrant narrative after the fall of the Wall in 1989, and analyze its importance for creating a new core narrative of a plural belonging that goes against binary notions of between (Adelson 2001) and beyond “discourses of cultural identity and ‘clash of civilizations’” (Segelcke 2007).
Keywords: Politics of Belonging, Ethnicity, Marginalization/Othering, Postmigrant Narratives, Plural Society
Dorothee Leesing (UBC Vancouver): The High-rise as Transitional Space: Identity Negotiations in K. Taha’s “Beschreibung einer Krabbenwanderung” (2018)
High-rises as mass dwellings were introduced in Europe as a housing solution for millions of refugees after World War II. In the 21st century, this type of architecture is still being utilized as a space for asylum seekers. It can thus be perceived as a space for identity negotiations in an increasingly globalized and urbanized world. This paper therefore asks in which way migrants’ identities are symbolized, shaped and perceived by the form of shelter they are housed in, and in which way this is made visible or utilized by post-migrant authors. Based on Bernhard Siegert’s medial understanding of doors, windows and gates (Doors: On the Materiality of the Symbolic, 2012), I will investigate the literary application of transitional spaces in high-rises as represented in German post-migrant literature. In my presentation, I will focus on Karosh Taha’s Beschreibung einer Krabbenwanderung [“Depiction of a Crab migration”] (2018) and argue that the high-rise’s distinct spaces feature specific transitional spaces, which the narrative represents as materialization of refugees’ identities. By embedding my research in spatial and environmental theories (Yildiz 2016, Berg 2018, Böhme 2017) and by applying it to Toshe’s post-migrant narrative, I will show that the balcony, the elevator, and the heavily trafficked main entrance are spaces that symbolize the translocality of its post-migrant inhabitants.
Keywords: Urban studies, translocality, post-migrant literature, media materiality, high-rise.
Álvaro Luna (Université de Limoges, Institut d’études politiques de Paris): Towards an Ecocritical Reading of (Post)migrant Narratives: An Analysis of Yamina Benguigui’s Inch’Allah Dimanche
This paper examines Yamina Benguigui’s film and novel, Inch’Allah Dimanche (2001), as a narrative site of reflection on the transformative impact of past and ongoing migrations. While the story centers on an Algerian family reunification in the north of France during the 1970s, Benguigui also incorporates numerous figures of vegetation as aesthetic and narrative devices that could be understood as an exemplification of a postmigrant society (Foroutan 2016). Through an ecological reading that attends to the multiple discursive and thematic threads embedded in the physical environment (Posthumus 2017), I will first analyze the garden sites featured in the works as metaphors for the sets of struggles, conflicts, and negotiations taking place in societies shaped by migration. I will then turn to study the vegetation surrounding the film, which in turn reveals an overlooked migration heritage in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. By taking such an approach, I aim to foreground the ecological dimensions of postmigrant narratives and propose to pluralize French écocritique.
Sten Moslund (SDU): Postmigrant Revisions of Analytical Concepts to Catch up with the Contemporary Development of Multicultural Literature (The Example of Black British Literature)
This paper argues that black British literature has changed ahead of the postcolonial/migratory perspectives it is often read through; black British literature has entered an “indigene period” (Osborne) characterized by a normalization of migration and diversity as integral factors of everyday life and society. The usual employment of concepts like hybridity, diversity and belonging is not geared to analyze such developments in literature because it originates in a binary thinking of migrant vs. non-migrant identities that is disappearing in the literary works themselves. The concepts remain relevant but need revision. To contribute to this work, the paper centres on the postmigrant idea (launched by Regina Römhild) that in order to normalize our conception of migration as integral to everyday social reality as well as the history of Europe, our research disciplines need to undergo a two-pronged change: European social and cultural studies need to undergo a general migratization while research on black European art and culture, specifically, needs to be de-migratized. From within this overall idea, the paper considers how central analytical concepts in the study of migration (mainly focusing on the concepts of “belonging” and “diversity”) may be demigratized in ways that attune them to the normalization of migration in contemporary black British literature.