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Ringvorlesung | Border Temporalities: Doing Literature in a World of Walls



News vom 20.10.2023

Organised by Susanne Klengel, project Border Temporalities and/in Literature, Research Area 1: "Competing Communities" in cooperation with the Institute of Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Geopolitical borders, especially the fortified, guarded, less permeable borders and walls in different regions of the world form a literarily and artistically relevant and ever-challenging theme. One might think of a long series of narratives about the border between Mexico and the USA, about the Indian-Pakistani and Bengali partition or about Berlin as a divided city; of texts that tell of the perilous border crossings from the South towards Europe, of the old and new border conflicts between Haiti and the Dominican Republic or of the wall between Israel and Palestine. The experiences at these and similar heavily guarded borders often have a deep historical dimension and hence their presence in literature and the arts is not surprising. Frequently, these narratives are about cultural alterity, linked to material asymmetries, social inequality, political insecurity, flight and persecution, and traumatic experiences of border crossing. Borders are often only permeable for the transit of goods; very few people belong to the privileged group that can cross the fortified borders without any hindrance. In the literary or artistic narratives, the individual human perspective prevails over the distant view of an anonymous phenomenon. But there are gradations in the confrontation with geopolitical, material and cultural alterity, in the experience of "difference" – spaces of agency sometimes emerge where these fortified borders begin to change their contours. Such dynamics can be seen when we consider borders not only as stable constructions and demarcations in space, but also in their temporality: Trump's great border wall gives rise to new forms of its by-passing while it is rusting away. On the other hand, borders that are at first barely perceived become visible the more they hold back people waiting there in the hope of getting through.

In the lecture series Border Temporalities: Doing Literature in a World of Walls, international experts will talk about phenomena of multiple asymmetries, inequality and non-simultaneity with regard to existing walls or fortified borders and the literary texts or artistic works that react to them. These texts thematise the physical border walls and other systems of control, which are increasing again in today’s world and deprive many people of the hope of finding a way out of difficult or desperate life situations.

In the lecture series, we are interested in exploring how literature and the arts address these conditions and experiences with aesthetic means, bring them into view, and through reflection make them more tangible. The lecture series aims to contribute to the awareness of border situations in the shadow of old and new walls as part of the contemporary world.


Wednesday, 12 July | 18:00

Carlos Fuentes' US-Mexican Border - a Line, a Frontier, and a Wound

Prof. Dr. Efraín Kristal (University of Californa, Los Angeles (UCLA) / Fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation)

Thursday, 26 October | 18:00

Autobiography of Cotton: The Making of the US-Mexico Border in the Early Twentieth Century

Prof. Dr. Cristina Rivera Garza (Houston/DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program)

Thursday, 2 November | 18:00

Steinzeit. Literarische Bollwerke von Uruk bis Berlin

PD Dr. Olaf Briese (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Thursday, 9 November | 18:00

'Dies und Das' - Black Surrealist Temporalities in Divided Berlin 1984

Prof. Dr. Susanne Klengel (Freie Universität Berlin/EXC 2020)

Thursday, 16 November | 18:00

Memory & History: Testimonies and Narratives from the Partition of India, 1947 

Prof. Dr. Sucheta Mahajan (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)

Thursday, 23 November | 18:00

Temporality in Border Poetics

Prof. Dr. Johan Schimanski (University of Oslo)

Thursday, 30 November | 18:00

Beneath the Walls: Underground Movement and Dissent in Egyptian
Literature after the Arab Spring

Dr. Drew Paul (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Thursday, 7 December | 18:00

De los muros fronterizos a los muros entre seres humanos

Louis-Philippe Dalembert (Paris)

Thursday, 14 December | 18:00

The European Border in Africa - Colonial Maps, Postcolonial Walls and Decolonised Spaces in Hispanophone African Literature

Dr. Julia Borst (Universität Bremen)

Thursday, 11 January | 18:00

Temporalities of Migration at the US-Mexico Border. Ethnographic Narratives and Literary Approaches

Pia Berghoff (IGC "Temporalities of Future in Latin America", Freie Universität Berlin)

Thursday, 25 January | 18:00 +++ Lecture postponed to Thursday, 15 February | 18:00 +++

The Tragedy of Building Walls between Nations, Religions and Genders: Geetanjali Shree's Playful Response in "Tomb of Sand" (2018) 

Prof. Dr. Vibha Maurya (University of Delhi)

Thursday, 8 February | 18:00

Photography as Demarcation: Claudia Andujar and Barbara Brändli among the Yanomami in Brazil and Venezuela

Dr. Michel Otayek (Freie Universität Berlin)

ZI Lateinamerika-Institut
Lecture Room 201 (2nd floor)
Rüdesheimer Str. 54-56
14197 Berlin

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