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Bodies across borders: oral and visual memory in Europe and beyond

GoTriple's project summary

This project intends to study intercultural connections in contemporary Europe, engaging both native and ‘new’ Europeans. These connections are woven through the faculties of embodied subjects – memory, visuality and mobility – and concern the movement of people, ideas and images across the borders of European nation-states. These faculties are connected with that of affect, an increasingly important concept in history and the social sciences. Memory will be understood not only as oral or direct memory, but also as cultural memory, embodied in various cultural products. Our study aims to understand new forms of European identity, as these develop in an increasingly diasporic world. Europe today is not only a key site of immigration, after having been for centuries an area of emigration, but also a crucial point of arrival in a global network designed by mobile human beings.Three parts will make up the project. The first will engage with bodies, their gendered dimension, performative capacities and connection to place. It will explore the ways certain bodies are ‘emplaced’ as ‘European’, while others are marked as alien, and contrast these discourses with the counter-narratives by visual artists. The second part will extend further the reflection on the role of the visual arts in challenging an emergent ‘Fortress Europe’ but also in re-imagining the memory of European colonialism. The work of some key artists will be shown to students in Italy and the Netherlands, both recent migrants and ‘natives’, creating an ‘induced reception’. The final part of the project will look at alternative imaginations of Europe, investigating the oral memories and ‘mental maps’ created by two migrant communities in Europe: from Peru and from the Horn of Africa.Examining the heterogeneous micro-productions of mobility – whether ‘real’ or imagined/envisioned – will thus yield important lessons for the historical understanding of inclusion and exclusion in today’s Europe.

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