Art/Histories: Migrations, Transculturality & The Idea of Latin America
University of Zurich (UZH), Latin American Center Zurich
March 6-7, 2020
Recently, migration in a Latin American context has drawn a lot of international attention. Central American “transmigrants” on their way up north are often confronted with drug cartels, human traffickers, and corrupt police forces immobilizing them at what frequently becomes a tragic turning point on their voyage – the Mexico-United States border. The pictures conveyed by the media coverage of their struggles are contrasted and broadened by an increasing number of artistic modes of expression addressing the subject both north and south of the “political equator” (Teddy Cruz). The ‘border’ has become emblematic of contemporary migrant movements, and a source of both real politics and artistic positions concerning the inclusion or exclusion of Latin-/America.
In spite of the impactful US-Mexico wall project, transculturality remains a historical fact in both Americas represented in image and art practices. Since pre-colonial times, transculturality and migration in Latin America have been forms of cultural exchange reflecting power relations and processes of appropriation. Moche culture iconographies, for example, were culturally assimilated by the dominant Inka, and the Codex Mendoza shows the Aztec myth of origin as a travel movement symbolized by small foot prints.
With the ‘discovery’ and colonial submission of the South American continent, migrant image practices acquired a new dimension. The colonial exploitation process triggered a “cycle of money and art” involving intercontinental slave trafficking, and a global trade with mass produced baroque and sacral paintings (Das Potosí-Prinzip. Koloniale Bildproduktion in der globalen Ökonomie. Exh.-Cat. Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Cologne 2010).
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Latin America was a main destination of European migration and exile for artists who initiated an intensive transatlantic artistic exchange. Today, the continent is marked by innumerous internal migration movements caused by political conflict as in Venezuela and Colombia, or by economic recessions. These movements are increasingly becoming the subject of artistic expression. Fred Ramos has captured caravans of young migrants in aesthetically appealing and disquieting photographs, and Christa Cowrie has portrayed Guatemalan migrants in southern Mexico fleeing their country’s dictatorship in the 1980s. The ways art projects are conceived today often reflect transculturally entangled migratory movements: Burcu Dogramaci and Helene Roth identify photography as the medium of migration (Dogramaci/Roth 2019), and Studio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman develops artistic architecture in the border region of San Diego-Tijuana. A critical discussion of modern and contemporary conceptions of art as an occidentalist extension of colonial power relations as described in “aesthesis decolonial” (Vasquez Barrera 2015) casts a light on the migration of concepts and ideas about art (Bal 2002).
Migration should therefore be understood as an activity that generates transculturality. In this vein, the conference suggests a perspective on the various concepts of migration and transculturality that stresses the obvious and complex relationship between both phenomena. In the context of migration, we understand transculturality as a vantage point to address conflict, incommensurability, and specific forms of appropriation in transcultural processes of exchange, including the power relations that accompany such processes.
The conference seeks to critically discuss and theoretically question human migration as a mode of travel for ideas, forms, and iconographies. Based on case studies, we aim to examine the ‘migration of images’ – the recognizable continuity of aesthetic formulas and ‘anthropological imagery constants’ across time and space – and its applicability in the Latin American context. The conference seeks to historicize the “Idea of Latin America” (Mignolo 2005) in art, and critically question it from a perspective informed by transculturality and migration. We will put a special focus on trans-historical perspectives.
Short proposals (500 words max) for 20-minute talks in German or English and short biographies (1000 characters max) should be submitted by 30 November 2019 to:
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
· Migration as an artistic subject in Latin American art production
· Transculturality and the concept of art in the context of Latin America
· Art/History of migration in Latin America
· Terminology of transculturality and migration in the Latin American context
· Interpretation of images, performances, installations etc.
· Migratory art practices
· Transcultural practices in terms of images and objects
· Writing art history in Latin America
· Migration as an artistic concept
Conzeption and organization:
Dr. Pauline Bachmann, University of Zurich
Dr. Miriam Oesterreich, Technical University Darmstadt
Travel and Migration
University of Duisburg-Essen & Folkwang University
July 4-7, 2019
Please send your applications with an abstract (max. one page) and a short CV until April 15, 2019
Multiple Senses of Belonging
Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte / Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art, Paris
April 4-5, 2019
Conceived and organized by Lena Bader, Birgit Mersmann, Mona Schieren
The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2018. The selected presenters will be notified by 31 January 2019.
Migration in art and art history is primarily defined by the movement in both space and time of artists, curators, and critics, and their works, ideas, and memories (Mathur 2011). It has engendered geographically dispersed artistic communities bound by shared diasporic experiences and has generated splintered temporalities of artistic relationalities that negotiate between pastness, nowness, and futurity. The increasing diasporization of art and culture is a farreaching and profound shift resulting from global migration and its rapidly changing nature. As a global transnational process, migration has produced global diasporas (Cohen 1997), including ethnic, cultural, religious, and national diasporas, which fuel the dissemination of “diasporic imaginaries.” Beside the Jewish, Greek, Armenian, and Black diasporas — the most historically significant diasporic traditions — the Chinese, Indian, Iranian, Lebanese, Palestinian diasporas have, among others, become clearly visible on the world map of diaspora cartographies (Brah 1996, Dufoix 2008). To take account of these developments, diaspora research has undergone a process of reorientation over recent decades. Along with transcending
the limiting classical notions of diaspora as anchored in the Jewish tradition, it has diversified in scope on every level, extended its definitions, and repositioned itself at the intersection of (trans)migration, transnational, and postcolonial studies. Postcolonial and anthropological theories of transversality, transculturation, and translation, as exemplified by Edouard Glissant’s Traité du Tout-monde (1993), Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic (1993) and James Clifford’s Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (1997), have contributed to rethinking the diaspora in terms of hybridity and redefining it as a concept, structure, and social practice of translational migratory culture oscillating between integrity and discontinuity (Quaysan/Daswani 2013).
As a consequence of this shift, major diaspora research has moved away from the place-related analytical model that posits a diaspora as a place (of origin) and the hoped-for return to it.
Instead of a strictly spatial separation between homeland and host country, it has foregrounded the analytical concept of the “diasporic imaginary” as a space of imagination which “account[s] for
the creation of the diaspora […] through formations of temporality, affect, and corporeality” (Axel 2002, 412). Reconsidering diasporic communities as “imagined communities” (Anderson 1991)
established the notion of the “diasporic imaginary” (Mishra 1996), making it possible to reinterpret the imaginary as the creation of a shared diasporic space of dreams, fantasies, and visions.
Most powerfully — and often even violently — the
“diasporic imaginary” emerges at the intersection of global transnationalization and (re-)nationalization. For this reason, it is interconnected with and nourished by both the “global imaginary” (Steger 2008) as a consciousness of belonging to a global community and the “national imaginary” as a construction of shared ideas and ideologies within a nation.
As a migration-based force, the diasporic imaginary is generated and informed by a multiplicity of temporalities, localities, traditions, identities, and subjectivities. It is shaped by multiple
senses of identification and belonging that emerge in the interstices between collective memories and future projections, traumas and dreams, nostalgic remembrances, and utopian
fantasies. The conference intends to approach the diverse plurality of “diasporic imaginaries” in the arts, art communities, and art histories from the viewpoint of “multiple belonging.” Following the example of migration studies, belonging is conceptualized as a process of becoming rather than a status or given category (Antonsich 2010). As such, it is understood in its entire complexity, ranging from a personal, intimate feeling of individual affiliation and athomeness to a collective sense of group identification and social participation (community, nationhood, cultural and political citizenship, humanity etc.). Since the tangible, affective, and corporeal is highly involved in the process, the analysis of multiple senses of belonging includes the multisensory aesthetic production of the “diasporic imaginary.”
The conference will raise the following themes and issues for critical discussion: How does redefining the diaspora as an imaginary at the interface of cosmopolitan detachment and deterritorialized nationalism affect the analysis of art history, art theory, and art practice? How are biographies of migration and displacement, trauma and fantasy, re-narrated in artistic and art historical discourses? Are multiple senses of belonging creating productive ambiguities of multilayered meaning? Or are they producing conflicting perceptions and fractured perspectives? How are individual subjectivities of diasporicity reflected in art production? Do diasporic imaginaries generate specific forms of art practices and epistemological images of thought like the rhizome? In what ways does the concept of the diaspora as a network of transnational connections allow us to transcend the frame of the mobile individual subject and address complex formations of community and network-building that even include nonhuman actors and ecologies? To what extent do digital technologies that facilitate imaginary migrations in both space and time contribute to producing multiple belongings?
We encourage postgraduate students, early career researchers, and established scholars to submit proposals for individual presentations of 25 minutes on the above-mentioned topics or their own choice of theme. In addition to contributions from art history, architecture, and film and fashion studies, we welcome papers from cultural studies, postcolonial studies, anthropology, and media studies.
The conference will be held in English. Please send a title and abstract of your proposal (maximum 400 words) along with a short CV to the organizers of the conference: birgit.mersmann AT uni-due.de, lbader AT dfk-paris.org, m.schieren AT hfk-bremen.de. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2018. The selected presenters will be notified by 31 January 2019. Selected speakers can apply for travel funding (max. 250.- Euro).
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso 1991.
Antonsich, Marco. “Searching for belonging: an analytical framework.” Geography Compass 4,6 (2010), 644-659.
Axel, Brian Keith. “The Diasporic Imaginary.” Public Culture 14,2 (Spring 2002), 411-428.
Brah, Avtar. Cartographies of Diaspora. Contesting Identities. London/New York: Routledge, 1996.
Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas. An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2008.
Dufoix, Stéphane. Diasporas. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 2008.
Glissant, Edouard. Traité du Tout-monde. Paris: Gallimard, 1993.
Mathur, Saloni, ed. The Migrant’s Time. Rethinking Art History and Diaspora. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
Mishra, Vijay. “The Diasporic Imaginary. Theorizing the Indian Diaspora.” Textual Practice 10.3 (1991): 421-447.
Quayson, Ato, and Girish Daswani. “Introduction – Diaspora and Transnationalism. Scapes, Scales, and Scopes.” A Companion to
Diaspora and Transnationalism, edited by A. Quayson and G. Daswani. Oxford: Blackwell, 2013.
Steger, Manfred. The Rise of the Global Imaginary: Political Ideologies from the French Revolution to the Global War on Terror. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2008.
Positionings. Critical Responses to the “Refugee Crisis” in Art and Literature
FKW // Zeitschrift für Geschlechterforschung und visuelle Kultur, www.fkw-journal.de,
Special issue, No. 67, Autumn, 2019, ed. Liesbeth Minnaard, Kea Wienand
Deadline for submission proposals: December 1, 2018
The recent rise in migratory movements to the European Global North and the simultaneous increase in attempts to forestall this immigration has resulted in numerous images and narratives that try to capture and mediate the happenings at Europe’s borders. Many of these representations render the actors involved in these migratory movements suspect, and present those happenings as beyond our control. At the same time, however, representations of flight and illegalized migration have been accompanied by discussions about their appropriateness, their moral justifiability and the diverse ways in which they are being mobilized. Part of these discussions, that not only take place in the fields of art and literature, but also in popular culture and public media, is the search for more ‘critical’ approaches to the topic; a call for new grammars and alternative imaginaries that avoid the criminalizing discourse on terrorism and threat, and that escape the pitfalls of the “overarching trope of victimhood.”i The question at stake in this issue of FKW is what counts as critical in our current situation? What does a critical position actually entail in a Europe
that emphatically stages itself as ‘in crisis’ and as at loss with its identity?
Chantal Mouffe states that “critical art is art that foments dissensus, that makes visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate.”ii But
what does this mean in a time in which claims of crisis and states of exception determine the dominant consensus, and the ideas that ‘we need to stop this’ and that ‘there is no alternative’ are
primarily explained in terms of drawing lines and closing borders. In a time in which a supposedly feminist agenda is invoked in order to legitimate acts of hostility and violence against
‘others’iii or to install and justify mechanisms of exclusion?iv And in a time in which the use of adjectives such as
fake and bogus result in a broadly felt sense of distrust? We, as editors of this special issue of FKW, believe that it is of the utmost importance to intervene in such debates about defending
Europe and protecting an (ill-defined) European identity and to reflect, from a gender-critical, cultural-analytical point of view, on what it means (or should mean) to be critical about suchlike
discourses and practices.
We therefore invite contributions that discuss thought-provoking perspectives and possible answers and alternatives in the fields of art, literature, theatre and performance, but also in the broader fields of popular culture and political activism; contributions that ponder on the question what it means to be critical in these various fields of cultural production, and critical in respect of what (and what not)? What are the – ideological, material, moral – effects of critical artistic positions? And can critical artistic interventions actually bring about a broader shift in people’s thoughts and attitudes towards these migratory processes, or is the current topicality of the refugee crisis in art and literature simply profitable, as was suggested in regard to the various works on the refugee crisis by Ai Weiwei?
The 67th issue of FKW aims to address suchlike questions and to explore both the possibilities and the limits of artistic forms of critique on Europe’s migration politics. We welcome contributions that address the above-mentioned questions as well as related issues, either on a more philosophical/theoretical level or by discussing specific case studies from the fields of art, literature, performance, activism and popular culture.
This issue of FKW will be bilingual: contributions can be written either in German or English.
Proposals for contributions are due December 1, 2018. Please send an abstract (in English or German, 250 words maximum) and a short CV to the issue editors, Liesbeth Minnaard (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Kea Wienand (email@example.com), who can also be contacted in case of questions. The submission deadline for accepted contributions is March 30, 2019. The 67th issue of FKW will be published in Autumn 2019.
i Celik, Ipek A. (2015): In Permanent Crisis. Ethnicity in Contemporary
European Media and Cinema. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.
ii Mouffe, Chantal (2007): Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces. In: Art and Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods 1, no. 2, o.P.
iii Butler, Judith (2004): Precarious Life. The Power of Mourning and Violence. London/New York, Verso.
iv Hark, Sabine und Paula-Irene Villa (2017): Unterscheiden und Herrschen. Ein Essay zu den ambivalenten Verflechtungen von Rassismus, Sexismus und Feminismus in der Gegenwart. Bielefeld, transcript.