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.
This interdisciplinary volume explores the role of images and representation in different borderscapes. It provides fresh insight into the ways in which borders, borderscapes and migration are imagined and narrated by offering new ways to approach the political aesthetics of the border. The case studies in the volume contribute to the methodological renewal of border studies and present ways of discussing cultural representations of borders and related processes. The case studies address the role of borders in narrative and images in literary texts, political and popular imagery, surveillance data, video art and survivor testimonies in a highly comparative range of geographical contexts ranging from northern Europe, via Mediterranean and Mexican–US borderlands to Chinese borderlands. The disciplinary approaches include critical theory, literary studies, social anthropology, media studies and political geography. The volume argues that borderlands and border-crossings (such as those by migrants) are present in public discourse and more private, everyday experience. This volume addresses their mediation through various stories, photographs, films and other forms. It suggests that narratives and images are part of the borderscapes in which border-crossings and bordering processes take place, contributing to the negotiation of borders in the public sphere. As the case studies show, narratives and images enable identifying various top-down and bottom-up discourses to be heard and make visible different minority groups and constituencies.
This introduction addresses the role of the aesthetic forms such as narratives and images for politics of the border on the basis of the work of the philosopher Jacques Rancière. It also suggests that stories of the border are means for negotiating identity in the borderscape, the site where border-crossings and bordering processes take place, generating new belongings and becomings, as the border theorist Chiara Brambilla argues. Providing a shared basis for the interdisciplinary volume, the introduction asks three key questions that concern (1) the role of the form, medium, aesthetical strategies in (trans)forming the borderscape, (2) their entry into the public sphere and diverse functions in border discourses and (3) their role in making visible and giving voice to diverse experiences of the borderscape, including those of migrants and other minorities. The introduction also reviews the case studies collected in the volume.
Border images and narratives: paradoxes, spheres, aesthetics
This chapter written by the editors examines how the individual contributions to this volume answer the book’s three basic questions about different aesthetic strategies, how they enable crossings from private experience into the public sphere, and the various paradoxes they involve. The ways in which they answer these questions connect the different chapters with each other. Here the editors also suggest possible ways forward for future research, or themes that need a closer focus. It is argued that, in addition to the need to broaden the focus to other forms of aesthetic experience than those prototypically characterised as ‘images’ and ‘narratives’, it is crucial to examine in more detail how border images and narratives act in the world, focus on the temporalities of such images and narratives, and also explore their emotional dimensions.