Mediterranean Fractures: Postcolonial Displacements, Political Insurgencies
University of Kent
2nd-3rd May 2014
Click here to download the conference programme (PDF 473KB).
A 2-day symposium presented by the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, The University of Kent, Canterbury on on 2-3 May 2014.
In collaboration with the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, University of Kent and Associazione Italiana di Studi sulle Culture e Letterature di lingua inglese (AISCLI).
The subject of the symposium will include the following:
- What Franco Cassano has described as a political pluriversum is now actively emerging across the Mediterranean: mainly in the shape of a street-level politics that continues to resist national and global powers that refuse to take the historical, psycho-affective and material exigencies of the people into account.
- The Mediterranean may no longer be thought of simply as the site for the various “wreckages” or debris of European modernity, but rather, as a mode of reading and narrating the region’s peripheral value as a productive remainder or surplus of imperialist influence. The Mediterranean is currently a site for the emergence of autonomous and cross-empathetic nodes of expression that show the formation of a discursive field in which the South refuses to be projected as the “not-yet-North.”
- The present-day Mediterranean is a region of movements and crossings, of chaos, violence and death. However, the realities of immigration across it speak not only of human emergency but possibly also of a humanist emergence, a cultural-political movement that involves hospitality and the need to defend the aspirations of immigrants and asylum-seekers in the conviction that “the future will be plural or not at all” (Cassano) . This may point towards a Mediterranean ethics of hospitality as a strategy of postcolonial resistance.
- The literatures and the arts of the contemporary Mediterranean evince a representational effort to subtract the area’s communities from a `World Order` idea of the region, in preference for `the common ground` or what Ahdaf Soueif has called ‘the Mezzaterra’. The turn toward self-narrative, memoir-writing and obsessively descriptive realism in current literatures emerging from the Mediterranean countries, alongside the increasing production of documentary films, respond to the need to resist the self-glorifying fictions of globalised capitalism, and the necessity to increase vigilance and denunciation.
- As Caroline Rooney argues, the Mediterranean today represents an effort towards negotiating a number of geopolitical fractures, partitions and ruptures, and concurrently healing a long-standing temporal fracture – the need to unhinge a certain concept of time, a form of subjection vested in the perception of the South-eastern littoral as a space of backwardness and underdevelopment, based on how closely the region approximates to the paradigms of perfection established by counter-revolutionary powers. Dislodging the imperialist fiction of the South as a retarded temporality, therefore, becomes a seminal labour of Mediterranean expression.
- So the Mediterranean also becomes the site for an experiment in a different form of history writing; an experiment in language and representation where it becomes possible to engage with the ‘outside of the history of modernity’ through points of resistance and refusal that continually relay us elsewhere (Chambers, Mediterranean Crossings).
Please send enquiries and proposals for papers to A.S.Gurnah@kent.ac.uk at the Centre for Postcolonial Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NX.