'Processional Aesthetics: Performing Irregular Transit in Europe'
Emma Cox, Royal Holloway, University of London
During his time as a foreign correspondent for The Toronto Star in the early 1920s, Ernest
Hemingway penned several columns on the escalating refugee crisis during the Greco-Turkish War. In
a dispatch from Constantinople published in 1922, ‘A Silent, Ghastly Procession’, he projects
refugees into a visual paradigm as figures who enter public space through their processional
collectivity. Using the word ‘procession’ three times in his short piece, Hemingway situates
refugeeness within a spectatorial frame, performing a kind of aesthetic and discursive work that still
has currency in today’s imaginings of forced migration into Europe. In this presentation I examine the
ways in which an aesthetics of procession manifests in theatre, film and activist interventions
responsive to those entering and transiting Europe by ‘irregular’ means. Procession, derived from the
Latin procedere, meaning to go forward, advance, or proceed, bears comparison with its derived terms
‘process’ and ‘procedure’ vis-à-vis the technologies of status determination that adjudicate on (and
also politicise) methods of migrant arrival. The theological dimension of procession, concerning the
emanation of Holy Spirit, depends upon the processing body’s capacity to become representative;
similarly, migrant corporeality becomes representative – stands beside itself – within the secular,
administrative paradigms that cast bodies as much as trajectories as ‘irregular’, ‘unauthorised’,
‘clandestine’ or ‘illegal’. Elucidating irregular migrants’ mobility in and through procession offers
new ways of understanding what is at stake in debates over European space, citizenship and free
'Civil listening and hospitable stages: the role of participation in refugee theatre practices'
Alison Jeffers, University of Manchester
In much refugee scholarship there is an on-going oscillation between the figure of ‘the refugee’ and the lived experience of refugees: on the one hand, the refugee stands as a metonymic figure representing the movement of peoples, and the implications of that movement, in a wide range of locations and even across history; and on the other, stands the individual with specific stories of the particularities and known experience of being a refugee. The events of the past 18 months, with the increase in movement of peoples from war zones in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and many African states to Europe, place arts scholarship generally, and theatre scholarship and practice in particular, in a key role because of its tendency to pay attention to the latter even while discussing the former. This keynote address will explore a range of participatory arts practices with refugees in order to discover what can be gained from focusing on the materiality of encounters between refugees and the citizens of the states to which they have fled; but it will also acknowledge the importance of understanding these experiences within a framework of bureaucratic performance where the refugee holds an emblematic significance. What has theatre scholarship on narrative and audiences brought to thinking about performances made by refugees? How might processes of aestheticisation through storytelling, making, writing and performing point to ways in which we can think about and create ethical relationships? How might thinking about the act of sharing in the aesthetic encounter point to possible ways of enacting more equitable relationships?