Platform for Postcolonial Readings
Friday, 23 September 2016
Venue: Leiden University, Lipsius room 148
The upcoming workshop of the Platform for Postcolonial Readings will be devoted to a postcolonial reflection on the capacities and limitations of art, literature and cinema when it comes to giving a voice to refugees. According to literary scholar Bishupal Limbu “[t]o be a refugee is to lose certain rights, and in the absence of these rights, a person is no longer recognizable as such, devoid of significance, and meaningless to prevailing schemes of representation” (2009). Taking this claim as our starting point, we will ask ourselves if, and if so to what extent, literature, art and cinema can artistically represent lives that are severed from representation politically. Are there modes of artistic representation available and/or imaginable that succeed in effectively and non-reductively voicing the migrant experience, in many cases a liminal experience beyond words and images? Can artistic practices give voice to those who are generally seen as voiceless? And is doing so a responsibility, a challenge or rather an undesirable instance of appropriation and, ultimately, silencing?
As T.J. Demos (2006) has pointed out the documentation and representation of what has come to be called the “naked life” of refugees is closely aligned with the exercise of power. Moreover, when producing a spectacle of misery, suchlike representations of refugees run the risk of contributing to a violent abstraction that not only excludes the voices of refugees themselves, but also obliterates the role of structural agents, such as states and corporations, from our understanding of the causal conditions behind the various forms of forced dislocation. Can art, literature and cinema provide alternatives to the images of refugees as victims, objects of humanitarian intervention, and disruptors of the national order that are omnipresent in today’s media coverage of the so-called “refugee crisis”? Or have these representational conventions seeped into aesthetic languages as well?
These and other questions will be addressed during the 18th meeting of the Platform for Postcolonial Readings on VOICING REFUGEE EXPERIENCES IN ART, LITERATURE AND CINEMA that is organized in collaboration with Voice4Thought, an academic-artistic project that strives for alternative forms of knowledge production (see http://voice4thought.org). As part of the second annual V4T Festival, themed “People in Motion: Refugees, Migrant and Travellers”, the Platform invites in particular junior researchers for a meeting that will consist of
- an introductory lecture
- a collective close reading and discussion of pivotal contributions to the debate on the representation of the so-called “refugee crisis”;
- junior scholars presenting their own research in the light of the day’s topic;
- a public debate on “People in Motion”, organized by voice4thought.org
A reader will be distributed in preparation of the workshop which is open to all researchers, Research Master and PhD students working in the field of postcolonial studies. Please register with Eloe Kingma of NICA (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you would like to present your research project in the light of the meeting’s topic, please contact Liesbeth Minnaard (email@example.com) or Janna Houwen (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Monday 29 August 2016. Active participation by Research Master students may be credited with 1 or 3 EC (without/with presentation). For more information, contact Eloe Kingma (email@example.com) or Janna Houwen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Platform for Postcolonial Readings organizes seminars for all (junior) researchers in the Netherlands and Belgium who are committed to issues of postcoloniality and globalization.
Organizers: Elisabeth Bekers (VUB), Sarah De Mul (OU), Isabel Hoving (UL), Liesbeth Minnaard (UL); Guest organizer: Janna Houwen
MORNING: Voicing the Refugee Experiences – Possibilities and Pitfalls
10.15 – Welcome
10.30 – Short introduction of the platform theme
10.45 – Guest lecture
11.30 – Break
11.45 – Responses to the Lecture and Discussion of the Readings
- Limbu, Bishupal. “Illegible humanity: The Refugee, Human Rights, and the Question of Representation.” Journal of Refugee Studies 22.3 (2009): 257-282.
- Demos, T.J. “Life Full of Holes.” Grey Room 24 (2006): 72-87.
12.30-13.30 – lunch
AFTERNOON: Project Presentations and Public Debate
13.30 – Further Food for Thought and Discussion
Research presentations by junior scholars
15.15 “People in Motion” Panel Discussion hosted by Voice4Thought, Lipsius 019
- #letslisten (Irial Glynn, Leiden University)
- #letstalk (panel discussion)
- #letswatch (visuals and films)