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Migration and Transcultural Memory – Activities

Migration and Transcultural Memory: Literature, Film and the ‘Social Life’ of Media
DFG Research Project

Publications and Presentations

Erll, Astrid. “Travelling Europe in Film.” NITMES Conference “Memory Practices and the Making of Europe“. Goethe University, Lund. 8 June 2015. Conference Presentation.

Abstract: One of the most popular media of memory is film. More than other media forms, arguably, film has the capacity to convey images and stories not only about Europe’s past, but also about the present experience of Europe and of being European. As a kind of ‘multi-sited ethnography’, roadmovies, quest documentaries, and episodic films will travel and zoom in on different places in Europe, thus also linking different communities and their memories.

Looking at a selection of recent ‘travelling Europe’-films (from Adela Peeva’s Whose is this Song to Robert Thalheim’s Am Ende kommen Touristen), my presentation tries to convey a sense of the different plots and modes these films apply, and aims to arrive at an assessment of the potentials of such film practice for the production of transnational memories in Europe.

Erll, Astrid. “Opening and Introduction.” NITMES Conference “Provincializing European Memory”. Goethe University, Frankfurt. 24 September 2015. Conference Presentation.

Erll, Astrid. “The Travelling Memory-Film.” Workshop “Travels: Media, Memories, Identities”. Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve. 27 October 2015. Conference Presentation.

Högerle, Erin. “Object Communication and Memory Construction in the Migration Film: Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet.” Mnemonics Summer School, King’s College, London. 10 September 2015. Conference Presentation.

Abstract: Suitcases, dining tables, scrapbooks, calligraphy – Ang Lee’s film The Wedding Banquet (Taiwan/USA, 1993) is exemplary in its use of everyday objects for the representation of individual, familial and cultural memory. Set in New York City, the film tells the story of Wei-Tung and Simon, a gay, interracial couple; Wei-Wei, a Chinese immigrant in need of a green card; and Wei-Tung’s parents, eager to see their only son married and continue the family line. In its focus on cultural identity and the passing down of tradition, the film reveals the richness of object communication. More than plot devices or expression of character, material objects are storage media; memory “cues” that trigger acts of storytelling; transmitters of cultural heritage; and stages on which cultures and traditions of the Chinese diaspora in the United States collide. By tracing trajectories of object meaning from past to present, from tradition to modernity, this paper will explore the presence of memory media and memory objects in the cinematic language of the migration film.

Högerle, Erin. “Transcultural Memory in the Migration Film.” NITMES Conference “Provincializing European Memory”. Goethe University, Frankfurt. 24 September 2015. Conference Presentation.

Högerle, Erin. “Film Festivals and (Trans)Cultural Memory Production.” Workshop “Travels: Media, Memories, Identities”. Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve. 27 October 2015. Conference Presentation.

Abstract: As transnational events, film festivals play an active role in the construction of transcultural memory. Aimed at producing coherent narratives through their programming, film festivals make use of several paratexts or, rather, pluri-medial networks to shape the audience’s viewing experience of a film, transmitting, reworking and creating memory. Thus, the program guide helps frame the narrative with its introductory texts, synopses, log lines and film stills, as do moderators, festival trailers, advertisements, and the venues in which the events take place. Film festival directors and programmers function as story tellers, giving the festival a narrative structure and a mise-en-scène.

My aim is to focus on CAAMFest, an Asian American film festival hosted annually in San Francisco by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), dedicated to producing, distributing and exhibiting media products centered around the “Asian American experience”, and to ask the following questions: How does CAAMFest stage its films and, thus, its memory objects? Who participates in shaping the memories that are produced within the festival context, i.e. who are the memory agents, and at whom are the memory products aimed? What role do the festival locations play as arenas of memory production?

Wegner, Jarula. “Rethinking Countermemory: Remembering Transcultural Tensions.” NITMES Conference “Provincializing European Memory”. Goethe University, Frankfurt. 24 September 2015. Conference Presentation.

Wegner, Jarula. “Roots and Routes of Caribbean Carnival – Un nœud de mémoire transculturelle.” Workshop “Travels: Media, Memories, Identities”. Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve. 27 October 2015. Conference Presentation.

Abstract: The carnival is a pivotal event in Caribbean cultures. The annual event expresses history, diversity and productivity of Caribbean society. While there is general agreement concerning these facts, the particularities are still subject to negotiation. In other words, there is an on-going debate whose history is expressed in this carnival. The debate over the history of Caribbean carnival necessarily also concerns the performance of cultural diversity. Finally, Caribbean Carnival’s productivity can only be understood in the light of its roots and routes.

Caribbean literature is an important medium in this negotiation. Through prose and verse the history, diversity and productivity of Caribbean carnival are not only described but performed. Importantly, the subject of the carnival not only pertains to the content but also to the form of literature. In this process, therefore, the carnival is literalised and the literature is carnivalised. In this sense, the medium of literature serves as an important aspect of these engagements.

By approaching Caribbean carnival in literature from memory studies, it becomes possible to analyse the wide-ranging and intricate negotiations of the history, diversity and productivity. This specific approach allows the investigation of travels, encounters and confluences in and through literature. Concepts such as travellig-, transcultural-, multidirectional-, competitive-, contested-, or countermemory may help to shed light on these engagements over long stretches of time and space. In my presentation I will point out the challenges and potential benefits of such an analysis. Eric M. Roach’s poem “Carnival” (1962/63) will allow me to touch on this event’s historical, diverse and productive aspects.

Wegner, Jarula. “Remembering the Loss – Archiving the Void” Workshop “Migration, Memory and the Archive”. University of Copenhagen. 20 November 2015. Conference Presentation.

Wegner, Jarula. “Rethinking Countermemory: Transcultural Memory Negotiations”, “Diaspora, Race, and Empire” Colloquium. Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York. 11 April 2016. Colloquium Presentation.

Wegner, Jarula. “Rethinking Countermemory: Transcultural Memory Negotiations”, “Resilient Europe?” 23rd International Conference of Europeanists, Council for European Studies, Philadelphia. 16 April 2016. Conference Presentation.

About the research project
Publications