15:30-16:45 – Otherness and Boundaries

Charles Pigott (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

Migration and the Genesis of the “Frontier” in Andean Poetry

This presentation addresses the issue of ‘migration’ by problematizing the notion of a ‘frontier’ to be ‘crossed’.  This is realized by comparing various Andean oral poems (in the indigenous Quechua language), which I collected during fieldwork in Peru.  Together, the poems advocate the resurgence of a common ‘Andean’ identity through ritual migration from contemporary reality to a mythical Incan past.  The European colonizers are the ‘alter’ to this ‘Incan community’, being presented as immoral in contrast to the ethically enlightened Incas.  The discourse is, I suggest, motivated by the desire to forge solidarity and positive self-appraisal in a marginalized group.  The discourse relies on the simultaneous construction and absolving of frontiers in time and space.  First, the rhetorical power of defining ‘Andeans’ as ‘Incas’ only exists if there is a tacit acknowledgement that the two are distinct (‘Andeans’ become endowed with the prestige of the ‘Incas’).  Second, the opposition between ‘Andean’ and ‘non-Andean’ is not just antagonistic, but mutually dependent – since the category of ‘Andean’ only takes form through relation to some alter.  I explain this paradoxical nature of the ‘frontier’ by recourse to Derrida’s (1967) notion of trace, whereby meaning is created through a dialectic of oppositions, and Merleau-Ponty’s (1964) notion of chair ‘flesh’, whereby the distinction between Self and Other can only be perceived if the two share the same substance.  ‘Migration’ is not, then, a simple movement from A to B, but a mutual genesis of A and B through our interaction with the world.

Sarah Parry (University of Liverpool)

Problematic Representations of Internal Migration in the Narratives of Violence in Medellín

Violence in Medellín is a much explored phenomenon, that has been widely represented in both fictional and non-fiction narrative cultural products. In the analysis of these cultural products, much attention has been paid to high-profile figures, such as drug barons and sicarios (hired assassins) because of their notoriety and their visibility in such representations. Migration, on the other hand, is an issue that is just as prevalent in many of the narratives of violence within Medellín, yet less explored. Many of those living in Medellín’s most violent barrios are migrants – some displaced by violence, while others are economic migrants. This paper will offer a contribution to the limited analysis of the representation of migration in narratives of violence in Medellín through a discussion of two non-fiction cultural products: Alonso Salazar’s testimonio, No nacimos pa’semilla (1990), and Scott Dalton and margarita Martinez’s documentary La Sierra (2005).

In addition to discussing the importance of migration and how it is represented in narratives of violence, the paper will also focus on the reproduction of myths associated with migration dating from the colonial period. Throughout this, and the post independence period in Latin America, narratives warning of the threat of peripheral barbarism encroaching upon the civilised city developed an endemic myth. Despite criticism of this myth by many academics and novelists, this paper suggests that in these two non-fiction cultural products, the discourse and ideologies of the civilisation and barbarism myth are reproduced to link migration with heightened levels of violence in the city by aligning barbarism with migrants displaced from the countryside by political violence. In this way, the paper suggests that such representations obscure the wider issues related to internal migration to Medellín.

Daniel Zubía Fernández (National University of Ireland-Maynooth)

A legion of voices from O Meu Nome é Legião

In his work, António Lobo Antunes (1941) has explored the forced Diaspora and encounter with Africa for some of the Portuguese despite the direction of migration.  This became subject to many of his novels, allowing him to explore the diverse consequences of this for contemporary Portugal, when some of those who lived in Africa returned/arrived in Portugal, in Diaspora/migration, willing to settle in the metropolis, as the option. In contemporary Portugal, the metropolis is home and encounter for a second generation of migrants as in O Meu Nome é Legião. In his 2007 novel, Antunes presents a different Lisbon, in a zone in the periphery named just as Bairro, where the reader meets a gang of youngsters. A police report by Gusmão exposes how this gang of “um branco, um preto e seis mestiços (…) de idades compreendidas entre os 12 (doze) e 19 (dezanove) anos” lead the reader in a polyphony of voices through their lives. Antunes explores the ways in which second generation migrants are represented as people who have experienced social, racial geographical inequality, urban violence, and are subjects to the periphery of the metropolis. The tendency is to perceive these people as a few but their name can be legion. Antunes shows there is not much room left for each of these voices in contemporary Portugal. O Meu Nome é Legião gives voice to a form of transnational and/or diasporic identities defined by opposition, regardless the direction of migration. But, do they actually have a voice?