9:30-10:45 – Nostalgia and Memory

Katie Brown (King’s College London)

‘¿Cómo termina un latinoamericano en un campo de refugiados de Moldavia?’ Migration and mystery in Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles’ Transilvania Unplugged (2011).

Young and prolific writer Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles (born Caracas, 1977) is being heralded as one of the leading voices of the new wave of Venezuelan literature of desarraigo, having lived in Madrid since 2007. Like all of his works, his second novel Transilvania Unplugged (Caracas: Alfaguara, 2011) portrays migration beyond the usual link with Spain, this time focusing on two young Venezuelans who leave their homeland for Romania. The novel presents the uncertainties of migration, the ambiguous feelings towards homeland and country of exile, and also the cyclical nature of migration, as one young man returns to the Romania he left as a child, while another leaves Venezuela “for good” only to eventually return.

However, the novel is ostensibly not about migration; rather, the main narrative drive is solving a mystery tied up in the fall of Ceausescu and the contemporary situation of Romania. Nonetheless, this paper suggests that the very foreignness of Romania, and the strangeness of the situation in which the protagonists find themselves, serve as the catalyst for reflections on belonging, national identity and the current political situation in Venezuela. How does migration, and the master role of ‘outsider’, facilitate a revaluation of national identity? How does contrast with Romania spark reflections on and criticism of contemporary Venezuela and its political regime? How does the mystery element of the story compliment the confusion of migration and belonging?

Andrés Catalán Rubio (Universidad de Salamanca)

La vida en los espejos: memoria, écfrasis y exilio en Cernuda, Salinas y Alberti / Life in mirrors: memory, ekphrasis and exile in the works of Cernuda, Salinas and Alberti.

Although in recent years the studies about ekphrasis (“a verbal representation of a visual representation”) have experienced a major development, most of them focus on aesthetical matters and the very few of them that focus on social issues approach it mostly through gender studies. Nevertheless, it is well known that one of the most interesting aspects of ekphrasis is that it highlights -since it duplicates it- something that happens in every artistic experience: the object is always absent and its representation is, in some way, an elegy of that absent object of desire. Both that unavoidable absence and the desire to overcome it are intensified if we examine the ekphrastic poems that some poets of the Generación del 27 (Rafael Alberti, Luis Cernuda and Pedro Salinas) wrote in the course of their exiles. The revival of the lost native country through the painting is a multiple elegiac operation: the author, a stranger in a foreign land, revives in a poem, that put into words the vision of a painting (being the visual language here also an “other” in a foreign land), a lost and irretrievable past. The anxieties, estrangements and alienations of exile have their reflection in the tension, otherness and transformation that take place in the verbalization of a visual work of art. This paper will attempt to tackle, briefly, the way the ekphrastic work of these three authors relates to the (and their) experience(s) of exile.

Blanka Matkovic (University of Warwick)

Croatian diaspora in Latin America: The example of successful integration of the national minority and its links with the homeland

Smaller Croatian communities have been present in Latin America since 18 century. However, after the late 19th century larger Croatian communities settled in Argentina, Brazil and Chile where between 650,000 and 700,000 people of Croatian origin live today.

During the first half of the 20th century, these economic immigrants maintained strong links with their home country despite limited means of communication and they managed to preserve their own identity. Moreover, they founded schools, built churches and entire settlements, organised cultural, sport and charity societies, and published papers. At the same time, they fully integrated into new society contributing in many areas of life, such as culture, and, influencing economic growth of Latin American countries. Till 1945, Croatian immigrants also cooperated with other Yugoslav immigrants providing their support to the idea of the united Yugoslav state, especially during the First and Second World War.

However, political orientation of the Croatian communities in Latin America, especially those in Argentina, dramatically changed after the Second World War when the country provided the refuge to thousands of Croatian immigrants who fled Yugoslavia where the communist regime was established. During the next 45 years these communities remained one of the most influential strongholds where the idea of a free and independent Croatia, and provided significant help to the Republic of Croatia during the recent war.

Therefore, Croatian communities kept their influence in economic and cultural life of their new countries, while at the same time they encouraged political changes in their home country.