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Seminar with Mara Mattoscio Tracing Shifty Responsibilities.

Higher seminar

We are very happy to welcome all of you to a seminar at the Department of Cultural Sciences with Mara Mattoscio
Mattoscio will give the presentation: Tracing Shifty Responsibilities. European Guilt vs Impunity in Films and Literature on Migration to Fortress Europe.

Chair: Juan Velasquez

While the prevailing political trend in contemporary Europe is to actively promote European fears of an external 'invasion', the continent is nonetheless permeated by an unresolved affective tension between a Pilatesque yet 'lawful' hand-washing attitude and the feelings of collective responsibility towards the alarming rate of deaths in the Mediterranean basin as well as the additional sufferings of immigrants upon arrival. The public debate over whose obligation it is to rescue endangered migrants trying to reach the European shores matches the ambiguities of the mediatic and political discourse about the treatment reserved to those who make it into the continent. This research looks at the complex interplay of guilt and indifference in the European conscience underscored in recent narratives dealing with migration across the Mediterranean border and into the heart of European cities.

I will analyse Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani's film Liquid Traces (2014), which transports into the filmic medium the authors' forensic report on the Left-to-Die Boat case (2012), along with Zadie Smith's novella The Embassy of Cambodia (2013), on the experiences of an illegalized immigrant from the Ivory Coast who is dehumanized into slave-like domestic work in suburban London. Both works advance crucial reflections on European responsibilities and ethical conundrums. In the first case I argue that, through a subversive use of forensic technologies and a 'disobedient gaze', the authors prove how the violence of the maritime border is directly produced by the national states' and military agents' claims of innocence. In the second, I analyse Smith's use of the narrative voice as a powerful means of political critique. Through a continuous shift in focalization between the protagonist's perspective and the ambiguous collective voice of the Willesden Green community, Smith's text unveils the hypocritical discourse of the supposedly 'enlightened' Western public confronted with a tale of modern slavery at the times of the 2012 London Olympics 'multicultural celebration'. Europe's self-assigned role of 'innocent bystander' is thus proven riddled with the contradictions of the continent's rarely acknowledged neo-coloniality, in a context in which the 'migratory crisis' has conspicuously turned into a 'crisis of responsibility itself' (Chouliaraki and Stolic 2017).

Lecturer: Mara Mattoscio

Date: 2/19/2020

Time: 3:15 PM - 5:00 PM

Categories: Kulturstudier, Genusvetenskap

Organizer: Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper

Location: Faculty of Arts, Lundgrensgatan 1B

Contact person: Åsa Andersson

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