Images of the ‘Jungle’ in Breach by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes
This chapter examines the representation of forced migration in the recent short story collection Breach (2016) by the Nigerian German writer Olumide Popoola and the Southern African author Annie Holmes. Focusing on fictional narratives telling of forced migrants travelling towards and inhabiting the originally temporary and notorious refugee camp known as the ‘Jungle’ on the outskirts of Calais, France, the collection addresses migration to Europe and Britain as part of contemporary global mobility. In addition to charactering the fictional space as a borderscape where identities are formed and negotiated, the chapter goes beyond a thematic analysis to suggest that the form of the collection, the short story composite, is a way of narrating the borderscape since it both unites the stories, functioning as the site where cultural encounters charactering its various migrant–host encounters take place, but also underlines the characters’ diverse affiliations and transforming identities, their belongings and becomings, unique to each story and individual. By challenging acts of bordering and refusing to fix the identities of the subjects narrated, Breach shows that the borderscape is full of ambiguity and precariousness, but it may also offer glimpses of a better future and a sense of community.
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.