Framing Migration: Timeline of the seminar

Feb. 17-18 – “Cinco Palmas”

A performance and workshop of the theatrical play about experiences of migration, facilitated by writer-director Martha Herrera-Lasso Gónzalez and dancer-choreographer Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, a Performance Studies PhD student and a participant in “Framing Migration.” While the plot follows the journey of an undocumented child from Honduras to Los Angeles, the play uses multiple media and modes of representation – including dance, spoken lines, and written text titles – to give expression to the complex (of) emotions that make up migrant experiences.

Feb. 22 – “Proxies and Placeholders”

This multimedia workshop with German artist and filmmaker Hito Steyerl was hosted by the Berkeley Center of New Media. The workshop, titled “Proxies and Placeholders,” featured excerpts from Steyerl’s work. Most prominently featured was her most recent experimental film Factory of the Sun, which uses a mix of media and modes to reimagine the relationship of human bodies and subjectivities vis-a-vis information and technology, evoking a dystopian vision of desire and protest in a future in which corporations are unfettered in both virtual and physical spaces.

Feb. 23 – “Loops of Migration”

This multilingual workshop with José F.A. Oliver, the celebrated German-born writer of Andalusian descent, was facilitated by seminar participant Jon Cho-Polizzi, who has translated Oliver’s work into English. Using texts that included German, English, and Spanish, Oliver explored the relationship between literature and migration from the 20th century through the present, weaving in his own autobiography as one strand of a looping, polyphonic narrative. Afterwards, the discussion focused, in equal parts, on Oliver’s personal experience and on analyses of nationalism, identity, and cultural production.

March 10-11 – “Actors-Approaches-Affordances: Circulating and Local Knowledges in European Ethnology”

This lecture and workshop with German folklorist and Berkeley alumna Regina Bendix, examined the circulation of nationally- and/or linguistically coded knowledge production within German-language scholarship. Building off of her seminal work In Search of Authenticity, Bendix discusses the ways in which larger facets of the education system canonize and privilege particular narratives—from teacher training to disciplinary categorization, canonical literature to popular cultural representations.

March 17 – “Exhibiting the Art of Migration”

A workshop with German anthropologist Barbara Wolbert on the need for art in exhibits about migration. Wolbert discussed the exhibition Projekt Migration, a collaboration between the art world and academia that “comprised a variety of research projects, art works, events and film programs. The assorted activities focused on the history of labor migration since the 1950s and the accompanying social changes.” In the discussion that followed Wolbert’s presentation, the seminar addressed questions about the ethics of representation in the German (multi)cultural context.

April 14-15 – “How to Identify a Refugee?: Literature and Law”

Our roundtable workshop featured seminar participants Abigail Stepnitz, Charlton Payne, and communications scholar and guest participant Marco Jacquemet.

Jacquemet’s paper focused on the semiotic dynamics at work in the processing of asylum applications – he asks, what information is inferred and implied in the application process itself? Abigail’s talk centered on the intersection of literary and legal testimonials, taking as its point of departure Primo Levy’s accounts of the Nazi concentration camps as well as more recent German performance art around the refugee crisis. Payne’s analysis concerned the representation of refugees in literature, including that of Jenny Erbenbeck.

May 5 – “Framing Migration: A Workshop”

The seminar’s concluding mini-conference featured term paper presentations by seminar participants. The event was emceed by MGP contributors Jon Cho-Polizzi and Abigail Stepnitz, and included papers from MGP contributors Juan Manuel Aldape Muñoz, Lisa Friedrich, Christine KorteAster Hoving and Kumars Salehi.

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