Session B – Spaces of Exile and Migration (S3.41)

Francisca Rojas Bahamondes (Università di Bologna)

Poetry and politics: the actuality of Gonzalo Millán’s La Ciudad, a poem from the exile.

Gonzalo Millán published his long poem La Ciudad in 1979 in Ottawa, during his exile in Canada. Its reissue, revisited from the author in 1994, confirm the deep connection with the Chilean dictatorship experience, yet revealing an updated perspective: the focusing on the violent origin of the State of exception that substitutes with the market the Rule of law using all the available resources of the repressive system and its continuity today. Flows, marketization, accumulation and circulation are topoi that include the bodies, the things, the social sphere, as a reification of reality. They are constellations of sense that can be found in this Millán’s poem. The objectification of the poetic language, the use of a despoiled idiom which reconstructs a programmatically raped city from its ruins, characterize the poem not as a pure mirror of dictatorship, but as a potential interpretation of the contemporary with its roots into the historical facts of a nation that shares with the rest of the world today, the radical and bloody scenery of globalization. Millán’s work, displaced from the dictatorship dominion because of  his exile, expresses the need of not forgetting what is still the human cost of modern totalitarianisms, which accomplish even the physical elimination of their political opponents to conserve themselves, as Agamben says. The practice of the shock doctrine finds its antithesis in writing the experience of the city, as an attempt to propose a common motto of hope and political conscience (Avelar, Richard, Leal).

Robin Finlay (Newcastle University)

The Moroccan diaspora and the production of public space in Granada, Spain  

The Spanish city of Granada in southern Spain has experienced a large influx of diverse migrant groups during the last 30 years. It is now what Pratt (2007) would label as a ‘contact zone’  – a space where cultures that have been historically separated come into contact. Although the arrival of migrants in Granada has stagnated in recent years, there are now well-established diaspora communities living within the city. The Moroccan diaspora is considered to be the largest, with over 3000 estimated to be living in the city of Granada (Capote, 2011). The Moroccan diaspora now has a visible public spatial presence within the central districts of the city, resulting in a socio-spatial transformation of parts of central Granada.

This paper is concerned with how the Moroccan diaspora produce and interpret public spaces within Granada.  It is taking on the call from a number of scholars for the need to carry out grounded and spatially aware ethnographic research into diaspora processes and cultural encounters of difference (Mitchell, 1997 a & b; Knott, 2005,2010; Acheraiou, 2011). The paper principally explores how the Moroccan diaspora has transformed urban space, the identities and symbolisms that are being constructed, negotiated and commodified in these public spaces, and finally, what encounters and performances are occurring in these urban localities. Overall, the paper argues that Granada provides a distinctive diasporic experience for certain segments of the Moroccan diaspora. The contextuality of the city, especially its mixed heritage between the east and west, enables for a distinctive production of public space within a western city.

Guadalupe Gerardi Arauz (University College London)

The past in pieces: migration in Andrés Neuman’s Bariloche 

The idea of simultaneous journeys to other times and possibilities is a constant theme in the work of the Spanish-Argentine writer Andrés Neuman. In Bariloche (1999), Neuman’s first novel, the protagonist and his family migrate to Buenos Aires in search of a better financial situation. Although the main character arrives and remains in the city, the traveller oscillates between ‘el tiempo inmóvil de la memoria’ [the motionless time of memory] and the harsh reality of a rubbish collector in the city. The contrast produced by the journey is accentuated even more with the alternation of descriptions of the city (that we see through the trajectories of the dustcart and the protagonist’s commutes) and the landscapes of the puzzles of Bariloche that the protagonist puts together. In these minute puzzles each piece is transformed into a reversed oracle. Little by little, the past is revealed in the reading of these images. The novel also approaches the displacement from a formal perspective, thus the conflict of migration becomes a conflict of discourses. From chapter to chapter the narration travels with the reader through different voices (that of the narrator and two of the secondary characters) and Spanish accents (Peninsular Spanish and Spanish from the River Plate). Neuman is a polyglot in his own language. The aim of my paper is to analyse how Neuman’s novel, without romanticising nor condemning the migrant, presents us with both the destabilizing power of reconstructing the past and of travelling. Likewise, my paper is informed by Edward Said’s and Caren Kaplan’swork on migration, travel and literature.