This chapter contributes to key debates in border ontology and border anthropology through a critical re-evaluation of the work of the social theorist Georg Simmel. Through a theoretical discussion and an analysis of several border images and narratives, it argues that life at the border always involves a need to negotiate between the territorial, cultural and linguistic demands of the different spaces, revealing the instability and ambivalence of liminality. In an attempt to explore the potentiality of the theoretical frame for the study of border narratives and images, the chapter investigates various border figurations associated with limits and thresholds, often marked symbolically as bridges, staircases, windows and doors, which are part of an aesthetics of the border. The final section of the chapter addresses the film Babel (2006) directed by the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. It suggests that the multi-locational and multicultural elements of the film, seen in its locations ranging from Japan, the United States and Mexico testify to global cultural entanglements and the potentiality for border-crossings embedded in globalisation, but are challenged by the closed space of the tourist bus prohibiting communication between international tourists and the space travelled through.
Borders and images in migration narratives published in Norwegian
This chapter brings together the concerns of border aesthetics and ‘post-national’ imagology. Setting out to map images of Northernness in contemporary migrant literature that features viewpoints originating from the global ‘South’, it discusses the border processes implied by stereotypical images of the other and of the self. It addresses a number of fictional or autobiographical public narratives written in Norwegian by migrants arriving in Norway as children or young adults, including testimonial narratives by the child refugee Amal Aden and ‘illegal’ migrant Maria Amelie, along with semi-autobiographical novels by Romeo Gill and Sara Azmeh Rasmussen. Migrant narratives negotiate discourses of arcticity, winterliness, nordicity etc., known from imagological research on Northernness. The chapter asks to what degree various topoi of Northernness contribute to the bordering processes in the texts, or whether these narratives produce new images of Northernness and new vocabularies for addressing the border-crossing. The narratives deploy chiastic switchings between North and South, circling disorientations, entropic white-outs and liberating and destructive verticalities in order to figure the border in new ways at different points of their physical and symbolic journeys. The ambivalence of these images shows that they are related not merely to borders but also to the epistemological borders negotiated.
The chapter shows how migrant writers from 1950 to 2013 have addressed their border-crossing into the city of London, their experience of migration within that city, and their ‘burden of representation’ of themselves in Britain and Europe at large. It focuses on displacement in border-crossing narratives, as well as on migrant writers’ use of aesthetic strategies peculiar to border narratives (e.g., threshold) and border figures (e.g., passage). The first section addresses the border-crossing narrative as a cultural expression for a community of ‘black writers and artists’ such as George Lamming, Sam Selvon, Caryl Phillips, and Hanif Kureishi. The second section focuses on the play Routes by the British playwright Rachel De-lahay by examining the aesthetic representation of ‘the British Isles’ in the shifting context of migration, borders and power that has emerged in the wake of the migrant crisis. The final section revisits the idea of the threshold to explore the migrant’s border-crossing into Europe, across the Mediterranean, and, following De Genova, argues for a need to create a ‘politics of presence’ where the migrant’s visibility and voice are accepted in the public sphere.
This chapter explores the way that railway arches have traditionally been
perceived and represented as commonplace elements of the British urban built
environment, and how the post-industrial transformation of Manchester can be
read through the gradual changes of use occurring within these spaces. The
arches, long associated with working-class industrial labour, criminality,
and spatial marginality, have gradually been transformed from light
industrial commercial units to spaces of leisure and consumption, such as
cafe-bars and microbreweries. Since the 1980s, and especially since the sale
of the publicly owned railway property estate, the arches have been central
to property-led development and commercial gentrification in Manchester and
From toxic wallpaper and beer, to poisonous sweets and the ‘cake of death’,
Manchester has a rich cultural history pertaining to arsenic. This chapter
explores this history across the city from banal to fantastical instances of
poisoning. We now know that in 1857 each sumptuous sample of Manchester’s
Heywood, Higginbottom, Smith & Co wallpaper contained arsenic. This
beautiful dye also snuck into the food chain, with several children poisoned
in Manchester by eating sweets coloured with copper arsenite during the
1840s. This banal yet lethal element imprinted itself on Manchester, not
just through the famed penny dreadful poisonings of disgruntled partners,
but also through the lackadaisical attitudes of the city’s manufacturers.
Arsenic is no longer a commonplace product in Manchester. Rather than toxic
beer, research at the University of Manchester now investigates the
complexities of arsenic contamination through rice-based diets, in the city
Cockroft and Rutherford: the atom-splitters. The popular story that the atom
was split in Manchester is not quite true – but it is true that much
research leading to its possibility was made here. ‘Rutherford’s room’ in
Manchester University was investigated as it was found that radioactivity
stemming from it was having harmful effects. The chapter explores the
mythical power of the word ‘atom’ in terms of Manchester’s inarguable
contributions to a new scientific Enlightenment, but does so dialectically,
using the word ‘atomised’ to refer to the ways in which the new science,
once instrumentalised, turned people and communities into particles.
A mix of direct quotes, imaginative inhabitations and factual content, this
piece explores the everyday realities for people living in unsupported
temporary accommodation in Manchester. This population of the hidden
homeless suffer from poor conditions, insecure tenancies, and associated
mental and physical health problems.
Although public bathing in Britain has a lengthy history, successive Acts of
Parliament during the nineteenth century saw the activity become more
widespread, with the emphasis in industrialised urban centres, such as
Manchester, on public hygiene rather than leisure. However, with improved
sanitary conditions at home and the advent of modern domestic appliances,
the twentieth century saw a return to public bathing for pure leisure. In
the post-1945 period, numerous dedicated swimming pools were opened by
municipal authorities across Manchester in places such as Oldham and
Radcliffe. Now facing closure and demolition, this chapter offers a lament
on the loss of municipal swimming baths and the familiar leisure experience
they once offered.
Since the industrial period, bees have been an important symbol of
Manchester, present in its civic and mercantile iconography. Yet, as this
chapter shows, that symbolism shifted in the wake of the terrorist attack on
Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017. Since then, bees have become highly visible
symbols of solidarity in the face of terror, a way in which citizens of the
city have asserted their unity. This chapter uses various images of bees as
a way of exploring their enduring popularity as symbols of the city.
Brick takes the reader through the chequered history of a former brickworks
in east Manchester. After a brief period of production, the site has become
a derelict wasteland attracting antisocial and criminal behaviour, including
a notorious local murderer. In spite of this, nature has reclaimed the place
as its own, and it is argued that this return to nature is a fitting end
state, rather than further exploitation by property developers.