Performing Identity/Crossing Borders: The Cyprus Symposium
Tomi Adeaga: Africans, Immigrants, and the Question of Identity in Germany
The issue of identity is a topic that is slowly gaining grounds in Europe. Many of the first generation sub-Saharan African immigrants for example came with the aim of studying and going back home. So, the question of identity was not that intensively discussed. Especially since they knew their roots and where they were coming from. But the second-generation immigrants, both Africans and people of African descent mainly saw their African origins within the ideological framework and grew up perceiving themselves as Europeans. Those in Germany saw themselves as Germans with African origins. However, in a society that in the past persecuted non-Aryans, accepting people of colour has been quite difficult. The outcome is that many like the late Afro-German activist, May Ayim have spent most of their lives in search of their identities, a place to belong. In this paper, I seek to discuss my notion that the issue of identity is closely related to the deeply entrenched xenophobic approach to people of colour, which has always been prevalent in Germany. For, how are people supposed to integrate culturally when they cannot move professionally, economically or even geographically? Just over 50 years ago, the US supreme court banished the "separate but equal" policies that segregated state schools; but here, it seems Germany is embracing a dogmatic version of its antithesis - "united but unequal". There are not many opportunities for people of colour and immigrants to be fully integrated into the culture and the economy. Those parents of African origins who try to protect their children by making them aware of their dual origins are said to fail to integrate into the society. But what is happening is that this new generation rejected by the country they call home need a sense of identity; a sense of belonging. This paper centres around this is argument. I intend to make use of books like Zwischen Charleston und Stechschritt: Schwarze im Nationalsozialismus (Martin, Peter and Christine Alonzo, eds., 2004), TheBlackBook, (2005) among others. [full paper] (160 KB)
Kristina Aurylaite: "I must be different when I am out there" (B)order in First Nations Canadian Lee Maracle's Novel Ravensong
"I must be different when I am out there," says Stacey, a seventeen-year-old indigenous protagonist of Lee Maracle's novel Ravensong (1993), acknowledging the transformative power of space. She refers to a white town, where she attends school and thus daily crosses the border separating the white space and her home reserve. The novel is set in 1954, which allows Maracle to foreground the racial tensions inherent in the white-indigenous border, marked by strict binaries, hierarchies, "fixed" differences (Bhabha 2), and prejudice, which preclude active borderline engagements. The border in the novel is the controlling element of the spatial arrangement of the reserve and the town as two adjacent but incompatible segments; the absence of interaction between them is highlighted by the motif of the flu epidemic, which devastates the indigenous community. Nevertheless, Stacey's regular border crossings construct her as a sole agent of contact between the two very different spaces, which both demand adjustment to their spatial rules.
In my paper I read the border of Ravensong in terms of contacts with the racial Other. I address Stacey's performance in the white town and specifically her transformation from a "white man's Indian" to a rebellious indigenous person. I argue that the latter role, which involves active performance as opposed to obedient compliance with the white spatial rules, allows Stacey - albeit temporarily - to renegotiate the rigid racial (b)order. The border is no longer a restrictive colonizing imposition, but a choice and protective shelter. [full paper] (174 KB)
Núria Casado Gual: "Finding Another Face Inside My Face": the Semiotics of Mime in Edgar Nkosi White's Racialized Dramaturgies
According to Tadeusz Kowzan, facial mime may be regarded as the system of kinetic signs that is closest to verbal expression. Indeed, the actor's face can generate a large number of signs, all of them conveying the feelings, sensations and thoughts experienced by the actor during the performance. At the same time, as Kowzan contends, mime constitutes -together with gesture- the most personal and individualized expressive mode in the theatre, submitted as it is to the performer's physical, psychological and actoral idiosyncrasies. In the dramatic production of the Afro-Caribbean playwright Edgar Nkosi White, mimic expression plays a prominent role: indeed, a broad variety of facial inscriptions inform both the dialogues and stage directions of his plays. Even if the mimic signs devised by the author have a variety of functions and do not exist in isolation, complementing as they do other verbal and non-verbal signs, most of them expose the inner and external tensions underlying situations of racial oppression. Considering the double axis of gaze and mouth that determines facial expression, this paper intends to analyze the mimic expressivity of Edgar Nkosi White's characters and their specific contribution to the author's theatricalization of the phenomenon of racialism. At a more general level, the mimic designs inscribed in his plays will be shown to unveil the discourse of ambivalence that tinges the racialized body when this is portrayed and represented from the victim's point of view. [full paper] (157 KB)
"Re-thinking Artists-in-Transit" will discuss the constant shift of power structures in the Art World on a geographical, political, and economical level. It will further look into the affect this recent phenomenon had on *visual artists and identity politics. Art borders are being re-drawn by the Internationalization and re-location of Art through Biennials and Art Fairs over the last decade. By re-thinking the phenomenon of "artists-in-transit", this paper will question the role and identity of contemporary artists in relation to the site; city; and country they show their work. Nicosia will be an example of how identity can be re-defined by each individual within the given site.
"Re-thinking artists-in-transit" will be supported by maps,
diagrams and other visual material.
*All disciplines included. [full paper] (2,616 KB)
The artists blend autobiography with fictional storytelling in order to create parallel narratives in a criticomical exploration of race, representation, sexuality, and desire. These narratives begin as a kind of dual monologic exchange and gradually blend into a fast paced dialogic script that reaches its climax by bringing these two heavily gendered narratives into collision. The biological imperatives of male and female are turned inside out at the outset, along lines of race, class, and sexuality, thereby rendering this collision course an onstage duel involving a Geisha, a Cowboy, and a mechanical Bull.
This paper is based on the experience of designing and teaching a writing course that focuses on the construction and use of public space in Lebanon. The course is centred in particular on the reconstruction of Martyrs’ Square, the public square at the heart of Beirut. As a non-sectarian, central area, it was the dividing line between east and west Beirut during the war, and the scene of fierce fighting; its reconstruction may be seen as an attempt give back to the nation a space in which people may encounter one another as citizens, and in so doing, cross religious, gender and class boundaries. The course has two main aims: first, to call forth the students as citizens who think critically about the construction and use of public space; second, to call forth the students as writers who are able to participate in public discourse. The felicitous metaphors of text as space and space as text shed interesting light on the ways in which citizens and students are brought forth by the discourses in which they participate. In hailing them as citizens, the course sets up public space as the site of open encounters with, and negotiations of, difference, without setting the goal of consensus. However, in hailing them as writers, the course is a disciplinary instrument that territorializes the space of writing. Implicitly, it presents effective communication in terms of following certain rules so as to perform an act of persuasion, creating a community of consensus that excludes difference. Another contradiction lies in the course’s relation to bodies: it emphasizes the embodiment of citizens in public space, but gives a strangely disembodied existence to the students as writers. Reading these conflicting ideas back into each other raises key questions: as public space is constructed (or written), is this inevitably an act of territorialization? Does it erase certain bodies? If we are to teach writing as a discipline, how can we possibly keep the space of writing open? How can we position student writers as embodied subjects? What are the possibilities in the Lebanese public sphere and in the writing classroom for “a more open, even more ethical kind of being” to enable the formation of identities that would have a certain detachability? (Butler 161) The paper will explore some of the successes and failures of attempting to imagine and enact certain publicly regulated performances – open encounters and turnings – within the writing classroom and within the fraught political context of Lebanon.
Works Cited: Butler, Judith. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge, 1997. [full paper] (4,748 KB)
Kingstonia Dialect Perverso is a black comedy designed to debunk the authoritative power of the official language, in this case, the Queen’s English, or, to use my personal favorite, “proper” English, or, perhaps even more absurdly, “pure” English. Trapped within this linguistic regime, women strive for self expression, to “unsay the world and speak it otherwise.” (Helen Gilbert & Joanne Tompkins, Postcolonial Drama: theory, practice, politics, Routledge, 1996) The subject of Kingstonia finds herself divided between academic officialese and the wilder, more visceral dialect of her native Kingstonia. First appearing as the repressed Dr. Ann Semblance, lecturing under the auspices of the Draconian Institute, the subject proceeds to stage a rebellion against the confining strictures of the mother tongue. The Institute, already alarmed at her tendency to diverge from the prescribed material and go off on a tangent, has arranged to have a prompter on stage with her to make sure she follows “the Script” ; but the prompter is a dummy and she soon makes short work of him by molesting him, shredding the pages of his prompt book, and ritualistically incinerating the whole lot. Once the Institute is summarily dismissed, Ann’s true voice can come through, the voice she has often mocked, stifled for the sake of greater respectability—that of the underclass. Without the dummy prompter in the head, Ann now speaks out as a hedonist, a sexual warrior, and a born pervert. This piece is inspired by performance artist Shawna Dempsey, who said—“Undoubtedly, we have to act. Out. Like bad girls.”
The paper will address the question of body limits and identity in the context of the breakdown of dichotomous thinking. The clear-cut opposition between the body and its other has collapsed with discourses emphasizing the abject as blurring and undermining bodily boundaries. Organic fluids, secretions and excrements are neither the body nor its independent external alien. Likewise, the so-called phenomenal body (as opposed the "objective" body) extends the boundaries of the body's identity. On the other hand, recent technological involvement with the body leads to its greater or lesser "cyborgization." Unlike the abject or phenomenal extension, the collapse now takes the form of the "inject," blurring the boundaries of the body by letting exteriority inside (implants, artificial organs, prostheses, pacemakers, etc.) and by expanding the natural boundaries of the senses (e.g., hallucinogenic drugs, virtual reality equipment, etc.) without intruding into the external (physical) space.
Neither the exterior abject nor the interior inject, however, constitute the body's discrete other. Rather, those external and internal extensions of bodily identity should be considered as the body's Third - a hybrid zone amalgamating sameness and otherness. This Third of the body will be explored and theorized in the paper against the background of the broader concept of discursive thirdness, involving gender and race. [full paper] (242 KB)
Stavros Stavrou Kariyanni and Aydin Mehmet Ali: Cruising in the Symbolic Horizon: Local and Diasporic Negotiations of the Ethnic, the Erotic, and the Deviant
This will be a performative reading by Aydin Mehmet Ali and Stavros Karayanni, two Cypriot writers and explorers in the realms of identity, pleasure, and intellect. The presentation will include readings from texts that engage questions such as: How have women and men sought sexual experiences in a repressed and closed patriarchal societies on a small and divided island and in its diasporic communities? How has the western binary of homo/heterosexual been affecting sexual behaviour in a torn, postcolonial island communities and their extensions in the Diaspora? How has the influx of foreign workers especially from Turkey and Southeast Asia influenced the sexual practices of Cypriots on the island and beyond? In what ways do particular and proscribed sexual desires influence a subject’s identity and how has s/he negotiated these desires in a social system where gender codes are determined and maintained with devotion, religious and otherwise? Cyprus and Cypriots are fascinating to examine in terms of sexual politics. The island forms a crossroad where ethnic, sexual, and race politics are complex, interwoven, and endlessly contested. From a province of the Ottoman Empire it went to British colonial rule, and, subsequently, an independent republic where nationalism tore the island into a "Turkish" north and a "Greek" south. These historic turns have effected a profound crisis in modern Cypriot (both Greek and Turkish) identity. It is useful to examine the extent to which the deviant sexual practices that challenge set masculine or feminine codes are attributed to the customs of the “other.” The readings and exchange between the two presenters will involve personal accounts from cruising ventures in the parks of Nicosia to the reflection of sexualities in literature, alongside a theoretical discussion on issues of femininity, masculinity and sexual behaviour and their developments in Cyprus and the diaspora in the context of a globalized sexual culture.
The Green Zone in Cyprus shares certain surface similarities with the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Koreas on the Korean Peninsula. Yet of course they are not the same: one intersects an urban centre, while the other is a relatively undisturbed stretch of land, a "biologically green" zone; and of course the political histories are highly specific to the two regions. Yet similarities in histories – colonial interests, military juntas, displacement, separation, and the incremental thawing of relations – cause one to compare, only to take a leap of imagination, and juxtapose these two places together "wrongly." In an era of global mobility, how do historically specific sites "travel"? Is there a "right" place to be situated?
As a Korean-born Canadian artist, I intend to focus on the convergences and divergences of these two geopolitical regions as a point of departure for my work. This new work will be site-specific and site-responsive. The material and visual manifestations of the work will be guided by the concept of divided lands. Within this framework, the personal and the political converge: family histories of border crossings will dovetail with larger historical streams. The performance is intended to highlight the contradictions between desires for unity in the face of political realities.
My presentation seeks an exploratory language to raise the issue of violent women and their actions and motives, beyond the dominant social vocabulary of motive that merely reinforces gender stereotypes and refuses to acknowledge female contributions to violence. The project begins with the need to openly acknowledge that violence is a human, rather than gendered, phenomenon, and that while cultural practice and identity constructions dictate how women are permitted to channel their impulses, it provides no language or other mechanisms to admit (and thereby, assist in quelling) such violence. Noting the fundamental damage that the myth of female innocence inflicts on women's credibility as rational, responsible, and accountable citizens, my poetics refuses a feminine that denies its capacity for destruction and wishes to assert, however disturbing, the potential of both violent practice and violent women to force social awareness and change.
The presentation will be a performative blend of poetry and direct criticism, aiming to recognize and engage with what Patricia Pearson notes are "dimensions of power that have nothing to do with formal structures of patriarchy" (When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence, 243). The safety in maintaining a gentle, nurturing female subjectivity within the confines of politically correct language and social mythology will be harassed, an attack on the presumptions and prejudices that continue to confine bodies within gendered identities. [full paper] (174 KB)
David Bateman begins Lotus Blossom Special, his response to
the Puccini Opera Madama Butterfly, with a campy lament on divorce,
sung by a transgendered mother to a large plastic doll. The
tragicomedy of suburban domestic drama is poignant in its Good
Housekeeping familiarity, but the excesses of camp—faux fur
coat, the doll, black evening gown, high heels, and—oddly—a
red and black Asian-styled vest—force us to register the fact
that this is performance, not “real life,” (though possibly
reality TV.) Bateman’s performance has a narrative. It traces
the dramas of a melodramatic drag queen in love with his producer
trying to negotiate the production of a performance about Madama
Butterfly. It is thus a performance about itself, which, of
course, the original opera is also, although it is far less
explicit about it. At the same time, both performances have
very “real” effects. Bateman incorporates realist narratives
of queer affairs on the road. The “real” consequences of cultural
representation, whether of a beautiful young queer man or of
a tragic and self-sacrificing “Oriental” woman, are highlighted
through this act, in such a way as to demonstrate the (ahem)
interpenetration of “experience” and “performance.” In this
paper, I will explore the tensions between these two polar ends
of the continuum. If, as the post-modernists suggest, we are
always already in culture and in language, where performance
begins and experience ends is arbitrary. There is no such thing
as pure entertainment, separate from “life.” An ethics of creation
and performance is necessitated here, and this is precisely
the responsibility that Bateman takes on—not too seriously,
but very queerly. He draws the audience in and changes us so
that we too must register our own performance of “real life”
and decide what our ethical relationship is to it.
[full paper] (21 KB)
Marie-Claude Legault: "Quiet Revolution": Michel Tremblay`s Reinterpretation of the Frontier between the Francophone East and the Anglophone West of Montreal in Some Night My Prince Will Come
The proposed article will discuss and analyze the collision between the Francophone East and the Anglophone West of Montreal in Michel Tremblay’s autobiographical novel, Some Night My Prince Will Come. Set in the early 1960s, Tremblay’s story remembers and explores the psychological frontier between French and English symbolized through La Rue Saint-Laurent or what is also referred to as "La Main." While the east side of Saint-Laurent has been historically perceived as the home of working class Francophones, its west side has been traditionally seen as the home of wealthy Anglophones. Leaving his Plateau Mont-Royal home (which is located on the eastern side of Saint-Laurent) for one night, Tremblay’s first-person narrator, who is eighteen, becomes a version Montréalaise of Voltaire’s Candide whose innocence is about to be shattered by the anticipation of debaucheries West of Saint-Laurent, the Anglo "capital" of Montreal. The journey from East to West allows Tremblay’s hero to reconsider the boundaries between Francophone and Anglophone identities.
Using as a critical approach Lacan’s theory of the subject and the "Other," I will analyze how Tremblay’s main character recognizes some parts of his Francophone self through his meeting and identification with an Anglophone other. The symbolic and geographical crossing of Saint-Laurent Street from East to West does not confirm the traditional and historical division between two linguistic communities. Rather, it allows for a reconfiguration of the stereotypes usually associated with Francophones and Anglophones by introducing new divisions that overlook language issues and barriers. The character’s anticipated fear of being linguistically alienated is replaced by another type of alienation once on Anglophone soil. Instead of meeting the dangerous and "sinful" unknown through the Anglophone other, the narrator is initiated into the pleasures of debauchery through a fellow Francophone, folk-singer François Villeneuve, who introduces him to beatnik culture and to an underground gay scene. The beatnik café, El Cortijo, and the gay bars Quatre Coins du Monde and The Tropical are Francophone bastions in the West. However, Tremblay’s narrator feels like an outsider in those French settings. Ironically, his only familiar point de repère on the West side of Saint-Laurent is found through the Anglophone, Alan. Both share the same innocence through their status as "virgins." Moreover, the stereotypes usually associated with Anglophones as being wealthy and ignorant of French language and cultures are shattered when Alan turns out to be a poor Anglo who can speak French.
As a way to illustrate this reconfiguration of cultural stereotypes, I will focus on "the Map" of the character’s journey. Tremblay goes beyond the mere mentioning of places by specifying the exact location of each establishment his narrator happens to visit. Each place confronts the narrator with his own cultural assumptions about his Francophone identity not only in relation to Anglophones but also in relation to fellow Francophones who stand out from the norm because of their adherence to subculture. As a result, the identity of the Other keeps being redefined as Tremblay’s narrator moves from place to place effecting in its turn a similar revaluation of his own identity. [full paper] (120 KB)
Marc Müller: “The compass creates the hand”: On Inter-Relations of Self, Words and Places, and Inter-Cultural Poetry by José F. A. Oliver
Vanishing of place, and at the same time multiple spatialization of world and reference have shaped post-modernity. These circumstances enabled identity constructions based on processes synchronically placing personal positions in juxtaposition - positions that can be contradictorily and completely unconnected. In Acts-of-Identity (Le Page/ Tabouret-Keller), respectively Positioning (Langenhove/ Harré) one takes up those positions on the spur of the moment, and in dialogue with others. Others are always involved as co-authors of identity, because identity can only be built on attributes acclaimed by surroundings (Habermas). At this juncture language takes a key role as medium and tool for identity construction, respectively acknowledgement by the other.
Thus, the post-modern point-universe (Flusser) of references, positions and possibilities facilitates a high mobility of identity - but mostly only for members of majority groups. Minorities are often denied such mobility; they are reduced to certain attributes by majority and dominant discourses. In consequence, members of minorities are excluded from a symmetrical dialogue with majority while not having a possibility of confirmation for an identity unifying contradictions (e.g. being German and Turkish). The hybrid borderline space, the Third Space (Homi K. Bhabha), in which members of minorities can negotiate border-crossing and polyphonic self-concepts, remains unconfirmed space ignored by major parts of society.
Against the background of a critical discussion of theory on narrative identity construction (Ricœur et.al.) this presentation looks into the subject of identity construction by means of language in German intercultural contemporary literature. Where does language become visible as medium of identity construction in works by authors of first and second migrant generation? How is language played with, how is it altered, rebuilt, unmasked, in order to acquire new, so far vacant levels of meaning supporting individual identity construction? In a critical analysis of works by José F.A. Oliver, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Yoko Tawada, I point out how author personae, respectively fictional characters in texts employ language partially regaining their mobility of identity, how they try to confide language - but also encounter the limits of self-concepts constructed in a by language. In conclusion, my presentation argues that text can become a Third Space, a space for identity on its own, in which minority authors negotiate language and world in a mobile and border-crossing fashion. [full paper] (120 KB)
Surely one of the greatest gifts technology has given us is the fast-forward button. Too bad movie theatres do not come equipped with this essential tool. It would save much tedium, especially in horror-zombie movies where lavish supplies that a blood bank might pine for are on display. Seriously, the fast-forward button is symbolic of two crucial developments: the breakdown in the subject-object paradigm; and the reconstitution of time. It would not be exaggerating to say that the subject-object relation has been the fundamental problem of Western philosophy since Descartes: how to relate the subject inside the self with the object outside the self, on the assumption that they are absolutely separate and different. What the fast-forward button symbolizes is the collapse of this paradigm, because it exposes the third term, missing from the way this relation is usually projected, and that is space. There is a space, a gap, between subject and object. It is really the subject-space-object paradigm. What the speeding up of technology-time has done is to erase the space. The faster we go, the quicker space collapses. The collapse of space, in turn, implies the collapse of differences between subjectivities, so that we are continuous with one another in ways that were inconceivable earlier. Communication between individuals operates subtly and pervasively in forms not easily accounted for. The phenomenon of "entrainment" in psychology, for instance, becomes visible when we view movies with the fast-forward button: people unconsciously corresponding and conforming and responding to each other's movements. [full paper] (87 KB)
Cyprus has seen quite dramatic changes in its recent history that have transformed the sociocultural landscape. These changes have been intensified for a number of reasons, particularly Cyprus’ recent accession into the EU, the opening of its borders to receiving temporary workers and the loosening of restrictions through its de-facto partition. Arguably one of the most profound catalysts for changes within Cypriot society has been the widespread practice of securing female domestic labor, particularly women from Southeast Asia. These cross border cultural encounters with Asian “others” in daily social life has produced a new racialized, gendered underclass of women in Cyprus, so much so that to be “Filipina” or “Sri-Lankan” and female in Cyprus is to be labeled as a domestic worker. In fact, to be “Filipina” or “Sri Lankan” is to embody a specific racial, class, ethnic and gendered identity that plays into specific power differences between “western-oriented” Cypriots and these women from the “East.” Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted over a two-year period, this paper will explore what Greek Cypriot employers say about Asian women, as well as what Asian women laboring in Cyprus as domestic workers say about their experiences interacting with Greek Cypriots and Cypriot society in general. Understanding how particular kinds of foreigners are constructed in Cyprus is revealing in understanding the tensions and ambiguities within societies experiencing rapid social change and also raises important issues about processes of inclusion, exclusion, citizenship and belonging in the new Europe. [full paper] (117 KB)
Slavica Srbinovska: Hermeneutic approach to the concepts of identity, power and their commitment in the discourse of contemporary philosophy
The study focuses on the concepts of ”knowledge” and “identity,” their meanings and aspects through the hermeneutic approach to the narrative forms. Their meanings would be analyzed according to their dependence of the history and cultural backgrounds. It also includes the problems of using and abusing the discourses of knowledge, representation and identification in the narrative. The study would pose the problem related to the phenomenon of “identity and power.” According to Nietzsche’s thoughts, if the concepts of Beauty, Goodness and Humanity are in constant changing, how do we understand the meaning of identification through the knowledge as a power today? How does it change depending to the rules of ideology of the cultural and historical environment in the contemporary society?
The main thesis will be based on the problems of so-called “jargon der eigentlichkeit” (jargon of authenticity). According to that departure, the study will be based upon the comparative research of Nietzshe’s ideas and philosophical and analytical discourses of Max Weber, Theodor Adorno, M. de Certeau and Michael Foucault and beyond. Through the phenomenon of the “discourse of representation”, we will examine the codex of society acceptance or isolations of “some identities” compared with the procedure of stigmatization. Who decides for her/his identification? Who poses the power (F.Nietzsche)? According to which rules someone can be declared as an “authentic identity” and his activity as the one that works in the name of the humanity?
The study will be connected with the monstrosity of alienation, power and elitism in the sphere of social and cultural identities. There are many discursive monstrous acts of classification, subordination or privileging of so-called the elitist world of the First in the sphere of identification and the “Others,” the processes that point out to the superior or minor that are in close connection with the processes of validity. By analyzing the procedures of putting down the paradigms of identification, of knowledge, of science and pointing out to their dependence of the politics and ideology, according to contemporary ideas of philosophy the study will develop the relations and points out to the tensions between the politics, the science, the esthetics, and the ethics.
The study will points out to some examples from Macedonian culture, especially narrative forms of using the “intellectual discourse” that is identified as authentic, the other discourses that have their function of non-authentic, according to Nietzsche’s philosophy or Adorno’s philosophy or through the Foucault’s concept of “Eye of the Power” and identification.
This study will conceptualize the phenomenon of identification, border, knowledge and humanity with their strong force and power in constructing the identity of false, monstrous or in the identification of true and value. By that way the boundary of knowledge is pull down by the ethical norms and its understanding and accepting. The main subject of the research is in close connection with the contemporary theories of intellectual as committed subject and his/her cultural identity.
The act of presentation implied the problem of discourse or of “jargon der eigentlichkeit” that has its socio-psychological effects. Discourse is very important in intellectual representation of the entities, because it is the means of expression and awareness of the human being for himself in the sphere of culture (F.Nietzsche). The study poses the questions of complicity, responsibility of the intellectuals, artist, and his /her dependence of the ideology and the dominance of visions in the culture.
The phenomenology of knowledge and humanity will be developed in connection with the hermeneutical desire of integrity, fullness and identification of the declared sense of validity. On the other side, the problem of identification is understood as a monstrous process of closing the various meanings in to the ‘fixed” and “closed” written forms of the narrative. But, in the silence of the written text lies the riches of the various human sounds of knowledge that are waiting to be pronounced. It is a circle of the creative process of production and reception of the values through different standpoints. Because of that, the concepts of identity/knowledge/power and human discourse are not so fixed and closed. In this context, the concepts of historical identification, from one side, and mythology, from the other side could be very close; from the critical one they must be separated.
On the other side, the critiques of violence, so central in the contemporary thought-scape, and their manifestations in cultural artefacts points out to the relation between the phenomenon of esthetical and ethical rules of creation the value in its “absolute/authoritative” form in the artistic work. According to the contemporary philosophy, the concept of identity and power will be analyzed as a theme of the narrative and as a metaphor of producing the senses and understanding the meanings that will be developed as anthropological and philosophical problems of cognition and communication in the culture. In that context, the research will activate the conflict within the subject and his silence of understanding, on the one hand, and the discursive way of sound of the knowledge in to the structure of the story under the authority of the Law, on the other.
Also, through these hermeneutical processes of production the values and the ethical norms in the culture, we will analyze the pointed “human” figures represented in the narrative forms.
The concept of authentic discourse of representation will also be situated in the cultural codex of esthetical and ethical norms and in their historical context of understanding.
The aspects of the culture and especially narrative forms in it will be analyzed from the theoretical perspectives that respect the nature of narrative as a transhistorical and transcultural phenomenon. By means of the application of comparative and intertextual methods, the research will look at not only literary, but also social and cultural implications of this concept that are highly relevant for contemporary theory and philosophy, and for the contemporary culture of variable codex of production and interpretation of the meanings. This research is also a kind of analyze which is in connection with the decentralization of the concepts through transdisciplinary and comparative approach. It is usually some kind of inter-cultural and intertextual dialogue that provides an opportunity for the transcendence of the existing prejudices and fallacies that exist in the contemporary culture. [full paper] (151 KB)
Aruna Srivastava, Louise Saldanha, Proma Tagore, Lisha Hassanali, and Sharanpal Ruprai: Panel, South Asian Bodies in Performance
In the context of diasporic and border-crossing subjects and histories, Sara Ahmed's Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality questions the assumption that there can be any ontology of racial, gender or sexual difference in order to explore, instead, how various institutional and everyday performances of proximity, distance, intimacy and estrangement work to construct and re-construct the social space of the body. She writes, "Rather than assuming the stranger is the one who inhabits a strange body, … strange bodies are produced through tactile encounters with other bodies: differences are not marked on the stranger's body, but come to materialise in the relationship of touch between bodies" (15). If, as Ahmed suggests, it is the "very acts and gestures" between and across bodies that function to materialise and demarcate difference, then how might the critical performance of gender and desire help to question or destabilize dominant national, racial and sexual taxonomies of difference? What kinds of communities and political affiliations might emerge in the process of performing the body as/through estrangement, longing and/or desire?
Engaging such questions in the context of South Asian Canadian histories, as these come to be constructed and interpellated by and through local, national and transnational movements and flows, this panel/project seeks to examine the politics of bodies, desire and encounter in both creative and critical ways. Speaking specifically of the work of Indo-Canadian female filmmakers, Sujata Moorti looks at how transnational circuits of popular culture constitute a certain representational archive composed of images, icons, sound, products, symbols and gesture that can then be re-mobilized by minoritarian subjects – not only to imagine alternative affective communities, but also to articulate how the processes of affect, affiliation, dislocation and estrangement are racialized, gendered and sexualized (356-7, 73). With this in mind, our project/panel will draw from the work of South Asian Canadian female filmmakers and multi-media artists, including Eisha Marjara, Gitanjali Saxena, Shani Mootoo and Sheila James, and will incorporate different forms of performance (video, spoken word/poetry, visual arts) in order to foreground the potential that performative arts hold for examining – or critically dis-assembling and re-assembling – how bodies materialize in relation to each other, and also in relation to global and local circulations of power, desire and/or affect.
Ahmed, Sara. Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.
Moorti, Sujata. "Desperately Seeking an Identity: Diasporic Cinema and the Articulation of Transnational Kinship." International Journal of Cultural Studies 6.3 (2000): 355-376.
Louise Saldanha and Aruna Srivastava: [download presentation] (111KB) Proma Tagore: [download presentation] (173KB) Sharanpal Ruprai and Lisha Hassanali: [download presentation] (99KB)
In a in collaboration with Gür Genç, Stephanos Stephanides will be presenting video poems "Kiss my Corpse" and "Twice Born."
Dr. Rossitsa Terzieva-Artemis: "Desiring," or Simply Human: Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body
My paper proposes an examination of Jeanette Winterson's novel Written on the Body (1993) from literary and psychoanalytic perspectives. Within the very generous context of Winterson's fictional work, I choose to analyze exactly this novel because, in my mind, it demonstrates her characteristic flair for conceptual experimentation and linguistic exuberance that welcome a psychoanalytic interpretation.
To read Written on the Body is a rewarding experience on two levels: on a literary level, it offers the reader a fictional world created with an overwhelming mastery of novelistic techniques and language. On a psychoanalytic level, the book could be read like an engaging study of drive, symptom, and love, and the dynamics of the Unconscious in general. My reading of Written on the Body tries to bridge these two levels, of the literary and the psychoanalytic, and to demonstrate how the use of a purposefully ungendered narrator in the novel turns into a quest for love and meanings, not a singular meaning.
One of the main issues in Written on the Body is the problem of identity, which is excellently entwined in the bigger problem of what makes one a human, desiring subject. Indeed, as the title of the novel suggests, the body of the subject is transformed into a text in which desire, both of the subject and of the Other, writes the story of life: of yearning and chasing the impossible completeness of oneself with an o/Other, of having and not-having the object of desire, of endlessly repeating and withholding the pleasure, and so on. [full paper] (174 KB)
Petra Tournay-Theodotou: Strange Encounters: Nationhood and the Stranger in Caryl Phillips's A Distant Shore
In this paper I wish to examine issues of border-crossing and cultural juxtaposition with regard to the self and to the nation. More precisely, I will explore the novel's multiple constructions of the stranger, predominantly in the figures of the two protagonists Dorothy, an aging white English woman and Solomon, a young African refugee. The discussion will revolve around issues such as stranger danger, proximity to strangers, social exclusion, violence, and others. This enquiry will be linked to an examination of the construction of places and spaces (the neighborhood/ the village and others) as miniature representations of the construction of the nation. Following Sara Ahmed "it is the enforcement of the boundaries between those who are already recognized as out of place (even other fellow residents) that allows those boundaries to be established" (Strange Encounters. Embodied Others in Post-coloniality. Routledge, London and New York: 2000:26). In order to preserve itself, the neighborhood/ nation has to reject 'any-body' - including 'other' English people - who might threaten its perceived communal bond. In this novel insiders can be outsiders and the boundary is a matter of perpetual crossing and re-crossing. The analysis will hence revolve around various kinds of dis-placement - both spatial and psychological - presented in the novel. [full paper] (148 KB)
The present paper analyses Jackie Kay's sensitive exploration of the issues of identity, borders and performance in her novel Trumpet (1998). The black Scottish jazz performer Joss Moody is dead when the story begins, and the narrative creates an ensemble of voices that remember him as he was alive (his wife, his son, his band musicians) or capture their brief encounter with his puzzling dead presence (the physician, the registrar, the mortician). The starting point for Trumpet was the real story of the American jazz pianist Billy Tipton ("I was definitely inspired by the story of Billy Tipton," Kay has said), who was discovered to be a woman, or at least anatomically female, only after his death in 1989, and whose adopted son was quoted as saying "He'll always be Daddy to me." The novel was sparkled by Kay's interest in exploring both the son's full acceptance of his father's construction of identity and the paradox of living as one person and dying as a different one. Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother and she was adopted and raised by white parents in Glasgow. Her particular sense of identity has been a crucial defining element in her writings, which show how individuals cross conventional borders of nation, race, and gender, and therefore challenge and subvert constraints of gendered, national and racialized conceptions of identity. Trumpet is concerned with issues of choice in our self-definition as human beings and explores the intricacies of identities that cross generally accepted boundaries and are thus socially perceived as problematic or disturbing. [full paper] (143 KB)