ASA2016: Footprints and futures: the time of anthropology

(P21)
Europe and its silences
Location Palatine - PCL050
Date and Start Time 04 July, 2016 at 14:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Stavroula Pipyrou (University of St Andrews) email
  • Andrea Muehlebach (University of Toronto) email

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Short Abstract

Europe plays a central role in how history, politics, and economics are produced and circulated across the globe. We invite papers that challenge the myth and model of Europe by considering how it has relied on silences as well, in the wake of the serial crises posed by austerity, refugees, terror.

Long Abstract

The perception, even mythologization, of European history, politics and economics across the globe are based on idealised concepts of historiography and modernity imported by the West and built into the social sciences (Chakrabarty 2000). But all historiography and myth-making also rely on silences and silencing - that which is repressed, unspeakable, unthinkable, or simply forgotten. We thus propose that the very idea of a common and integrated Europe is based on exclusions, cracks, and forgetting, and that recent crises (of austerity, refugees, and terror) have revealed these cracks in ways that have shaken the continent to its core. We have, for example, seen a Europe that continues to serve as a model for democracy even as it undermines democratic possibility through economy policy and law; it posits itself as a beacon of human rights even as it denies them to refugees and immigrants scrambling to cross its borders; it preaches integration and equality even as it impoverishes the Southern periphery through severe fiscal austerity; it hails ethnic, religious and sexual diversity while EU member states continue to supress alterity. This panel invites papers that challenge the mythical figure of Europe by prying at its cracks and uncloaking the hidden, and by looking at how silence and forgetting are both made and unmade at this historical moment.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Child displacement in cold-war Italy: silence and lived experience

Author: Stavroula Pipyrou (University of St Andrews)  email

Short Abstract

Focusing on natural disasters in 1950s Calabria that led to mass child displacement, this paper makes connections between silence, memory and lived experience. Silence should be understood as a nonpathological transmission of knowledge associated to historical macro-silences of the cold-war past.

Long Abstract

This paper aims to make connections between silence, memory and lived experience in Reggio Calabria, South Italy. The story I tell addresses events that took place at the beginning of the 1950s when Reggio Calabria was hit by catastrophic landslides that left thousands of people homeless, leading to mass child displacement. Initiated by the political left and the then Demo-Christian government, child displacement has become emblematic of a silenced history in Reggio Calabria. Arguing that silence should be understood as a nonpathological transmission of the past, child-displacement is directly associated with historical macro-silences and the lack of systematic ethnological studies on the events that took place during the cold-war period in Italy.

The silence of the British Empire in present-day bristol: imperial silences of circumscription

Author: Alex Gapud (University of Edinburgh)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the ‘silence of Empire’ in Bristol, once a hub for imperial commerce and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Despite local debates and public controversies about the slave trade and history commemoration in Bristol, the city’s narrative is poignantly silent about the British Empire.

Long Abstract

Among the present day silences in Europe, one of the most salient is the silence of Empire. It is not as though European Empires are completely forgotten, nor that they are openly celebrated; perhaps what is most noticeable is the ways in which colonial histories are often talked around and never directly addressed in a host of political and heritage discourses, such as the way in which Bristol's maritime history is presented in many heritage projects. Following Stoler's exploration of colonial aphasia in French historical and political discourse (2011), this paper is based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Bristol, England with a key focus on the construction and negotiation of memory and heritage and particular attention placed on how the British Empire has been presented, understood, and 'talked about,' if at all.

There seems to be a silence around an Empire which was once vital to Bristol's wealth, prestige, and commercial interests. Indeed, there is an abundance of disconnections and ways of 'talking around' the Empire while still discussing some of Bristol's more public historical controversies—especially concerning the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

This paper aims to not only address the importance of 'imperial silences' locally in the context of Bristol, but beyond to the UK and Europe. It furthermore aims to explore these 'silences of circumscription' and the ways in which integrally constitutive yet problematic pasts result in peculiar kinds of silence in which they may be talked around, excluded, and disconnected within local and national narratives.

"When the Orthodox went away" remembering and forgetting internal displacement on the Polish Belarussian border

Author: Aimee Joyce (St Andrews University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses the legacy of the 1947 Operation Vistula resettlement program in a Polish border town. Outright conflict is avoided but tensions between the Catholic majorities silence, and the Orthodox minorities need to remember are fixed in local spaces and practices

Long Abstract

As the current conservative Polish government focuses on a homogeneous idea of Polish heritage and culture, it seems timely to consider historiographical practices of silencing and remembering as they materialise in local settings. In the years directly following World War II the Polish state organised a number of resettlement programs. One such program, Operation Vistula, 1947, involved relocating large numbers of Ukrainian and Lemko communities from the eastern border to the Recovered Territories in the West of Poland. Families and individuals returned to the east of Poland many years later to find their homes and churches occupied and a lingering silence about the time the "Orthodox went away".

In this paper, I will discuss the ongoing contention over this period of history in my fieldsite, a small town on the Polish Belarussian border. I will focus on tensions between the Catholic majorities silence and evasion, and the Eastern Orthodox Christian minorities need to remember and how this conflict is embedded in local spaces and practices. The stakes of remembering and forgetting are high in this region, advertised as a "full blooded borderland" by the EU funded tourist program. Forgetting and silence enables the bucolic idyll of easy-going rural pluralism, vital to the tourist program but is it also a way of managing unspeakable traumas. Disputes over untended cemeteries, the origins of church buildings and classroom posters brush against Operation Vistula constantly. The disagreements becoming more complex when considered alongside local silence around the demolished gravesites of the exterminated Jewish population.

Camp in the city

Author: Andrea Muehlebach (University of Toronto)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the rise of one of the largest refugee camps in Germany - the abandoned Tempelhofer Flughafen in Berlin - to ask how the "refugee crisis" has become a site through which other crises are refracted and silenced.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the rise of one of the largest refugee camps in Germany - the abandoned Tempelhofer Flughafen in Berlin - to ask how the "refugee crisis" has become a site through which other crisis are refracted and silenced. How do the concomitant crises of refugees and of austerity, democracy, and urban infrastructure and housing intersect to become only one - "the crisis of refugees"? Who challenges these silences and how? What model of crisis eventually prevails?

Crisis and spectacle: concealing the cracks in the promise of post-industrial society

Author: Gillian Evans (University of Manchester)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyses the Paris 2024 Olympic bid to show how the spectacle of the urban mega-event conceals the crises of post-industrial society in Europe.

Long Abstract

Through a comparative analysis of the evolution of the Paris bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, this paper analyses how the spectacle of the urban mega-event conceals the crises of post-industrial society in Europe. The paper positions Paris as a post-industrial city, relative to other post-industrial cities in Europe, and shows how mega-events, which are premised on the absenting of industrial economic policy, provide the organisational infrastructure for the capital flows on which an idealised service economy depends.

The dark side of Schengen: the European "refugee crisis" and the hidden temporalities of emergency

Author: Cristiana Giordano (University of California, Davis)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, I address the politics of emergency in the context of the current European "refugee crisis," and focus on the practices that they enable and disable.

Long Abstract

Since the beginning of 2015, an unprecedented number of people from Middle Eastern and African countries have been crossing borders into and within Europe from the Mediterranean, the Balkans, through the English Channel, and other entry points throughout Europe. Unprecedented has also been the number of deaths resulted from such crossings. This time has been described by the media and various political actors as an "emergency" and a "crisis" that challenges the very core of European values and human rights principles. Calling this time an emergency implies responding to it, on the one hand, with humanitarian gestures of saving lives, and, on the other, with stricter borders control. In this talk, I focus on the temporality of emergency and the forms of care that it simultaneously enables and disables. I argue that to operate under the banner of an "emergency" precludes us to understand other temporalities of care and suffering that are nonetheless urgent to grapple with. In particular, I focus my paper on the practice of Italian ethno-psychiatry as one emerging technique that provides culturally appropriate therapeutic services exclusively to migrants, political refugees, and victims of torture and trafficking. I show that by introducing different temporalities of care, this therapeutic practice allows for a radical critique of psychiatric, legal, and moral categories of inclusion, and for a re-thinking of the political and phenomenological grounds of existence.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.