Performance of memory
Testimonies of survival and rescue at Europe’s border
in Border images, border narratives
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The chapter addresses the much-publicised disaster that occurred in the proximity of the island of Lampedusa, Italy, in October 2013, leading to the death of hundreds of mainly Eritrean migrants at sea. In addition to discussing responses to the disasters, the chapter counters established ways of reporting such disasters where fatality metrics and distantiation are dominant modes of representation. The authors argue for more ethical and reciprocal ways for research, where emphasis is on testimonies and narratives, especially by those who have witnessed the incident at first hand. The acts of telling and listening emerge as ways for foregrounding the human aspects of the disaster and produce more balanced and horizontal relationships between researchers and interviewees. The two testimonies, ‘performances of a story’, by an Eritrean survivor and an Italian rescuer, presented as parts of memory workshops and providing individual responses to the event by first-hand witnesses, show that narratives and images play a role in transforming the borderscape and despectacularising migration and disasters.

Border images, border narratives

The political aesthetics of boundaries and crossings

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