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2nd Congress of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft

Migration und Europa in kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive (Migration and Europe from a Cultural-Analysis Perspective)

October 6–8, 2016

University of Vechta, Driverstraße 22, D-49377 Vechta


Engfügung migrantischer und filmischer Praxen am Beispiel von harraga (Approximating Migrant and Filmic Practices Using the Example of Harraga)
Lecture by Brigitta Kuster with subsequent discussion
Friday, October 7, 2016, 2:00–3:45 p.m.

Session of the section »Kulturwissenschaftliche Ästhetik« (Cultural-Analysis Aesthetics)
Discussion of Susanne Leeb’s and Ruth Sonderegger’s paper »Plädoyer für eine kulturwissenschaftliche Ästhetik aus Perspektive der cultural studies« (Plea for a Cultural-Analysis Aesthetics from the Perspective of Cultural Studies)
Friday, October 7, 2016, 4:15 p.m.–5:30 p.m.


The Kunstraum of Leuphana University Lüneburg will also participate in the 2nd Congress of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft (KWG). The congress dedicated to the theme of »Migration und Europa in kulturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive« (Migration and Europe from a Cultural-Analysis Perspective) will take place from October 6 to October 8, 2016 at the University of Vechta (hier). For the second meeting of the section »Kulturwissenschaftliche Ästhetik« (Cultural-Analysis Aesthetics), its speakers (Amalia Barboza, University Saarbrücken, Stefan Krankenhagen, University Hildesheim, and Ulf Wuggenig, Kunstraum of Leuphana University Lüneburg) have invited Brigitta Kuster (Berlin) to give a lecture, followed by a discussion, on October, 7.

On her presentation titled »Engfügung migrantischer und filmischer Praxen am Beispiel von harraga« (Approximating Migrant and Filmic Practices Using the Example of Harraga), Brigitta Kuster writes: »In the resonance space of the large ferryboats of modernity and the nostalgic Franco-Arabic/Kabyle/Berber music of exile, clips appear today that show the dangerous sea passages on dodgy boats recorded by ›undocumented‹ migrants with their cell phones and disseminated on YouTube. These actors are called harraga, who since the 1990s have taken to the stages of everyday and pop cultures—a terms that in Arabic means ›those who burn‹ and designates the mostly young women and men who burn their IDs and personal documents to clandestinely reach Europe on makeshift motorboats. These illegal boat trips are part of a digital, audiovisual structure that is not only viewed and distributed, but also constantly modified, reordered, further developed, and appropriated. In the process, this structure condenses the (re)production of the distances between ›Europe‹ and ›Africa‹, or rather their surmounting, to a post/colonial space of crossing the Mediterranean—not least in (film) historical regard. The current post-media image worlds and sonic landscapes are open to an all but unlimited number of assemblages that recombine and temporalize the different historical temporalities, speeds, image memories, emotional tonalities of migration (hi)stories, and musical genealogies of longing, poverty, (de)colonization, progress, social advancement, consumption, and global youth cultures since the 1960s (migrant, postcolonial, Maghreb, Chaâbi, Raï, hip-hop).

The lecture reflects on these cooperations and practices in a post-representational sense as ›affectics‹ and an updating of digital and physical ›Europe‹ environments. Based in particular on films of (on) the passage, affectics is to be grasped as an experiment in establishing contact with the real. Differentiation, transformation, repetition, transmission, and affection form the motor. Burning is the in vivo code. Harranga aims not as much at the subject form, but instead insists on the subjectivity of a right of self-determination that simultaneously breaks with a story’s narratologically reconstructible coherence of meaning (origin, biography, travelogue), persons (identity) and their documentability (documents, IDs).«

Brigitta Kuster is an artist, writer and cultural researcher. She studied at the Lucerne School of Art and Design (Switzerland) and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where she received her PhD based on her dissertation »Engfügungen. Grenze. Film. Überquerung« in 2016. Her main focus is on the fields of video/film and visual studies, as well as on postcolonial theory, migration and border studies.

From 2002–2005, she participated as a research grant recipient of the Kunstverein Köln in the transdisciplinary research project TRANSIT MIGRATION of the Institute of European Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Frankfurt am Main. From 2010–2013, she conducted research in the frame of »Border crossing« of the EU project »Mig@net – Transnational Digital Networks, Migration and Gender« at the University of Hamburg. For her artistic work, she received the Swiss Art Award 2006 and 2010. In addition to numerous publications, her exhibitions and artworks include: »Rien ne vaut que la vie, mais la vie même ne vaut rien« 2002/2003 (with Moïse Merlin Mabouna); »Kamera läuft! ein kleines postfordistisches Drama«, 2004 (with Isabell Lorey, Marion von Osten, and Katja Reichard) and »Choix d'un passé«, a filmic research on the legacy of the German colonial project in Cameroon and Germany, 2006-2016 (with Moïse Merlin Mabouna); as well as participations in, among others: »Rester et partir«, Musée de Bamako, Bamako (2011); »Traces the Sand Left in the Machine«, Forum Expanded, 60th Berlinale, Berlin (2010), or »Animism – Revisions of Modernity «, HKW Berlin (2012).

Brigitta Kuster is currently doing research on the subject of European border regimes and the biometric recording of identities on the move. Together with Regina Sarreiter and Dierk Schmidt, she is also active in the artists’ collective Artefakte, whose most recent project »Artificial Facts« (2014–2015) was shown in Cape Town, Porto-Novo, and Dresden.

In the second session in the frame of the section »Kulturwissenschaftliche Asthetik« (Cultural-Analysis Aesthetics) taking place on Friday, October 7, 2016, from 4:15 p.m.–5:30 p.m., the discussion on the thematic focuses and concrete joint events that began in Lüneburg at the first KWG Congress (Kunstraum Leuphana University of Lueneburg, November 7, 2015) will be continued. For this debate, a text by Susanne Leeb (Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg) and Ruth Sonderegger (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) has been uploaded to the website of the section. On the one hand, this text reflects the basic localization of cultural analysis in the German-speaking academic landscape, on the other, it continues the keynote lectures (»Kulturwissenschaftliche Ästhetik« (Cultural-Analysis Aesthetics), »Die Macht der Ästhetik« (The Power of Aesthetics)) and the discussion with Ruth Sonderegger last year, emphasizing the specific tasks of a cultural-analysis aesthetics from the perspective of cultural studies. It serves as a basis for triggering an exchange on necessary content-related focuses of the section and also on the range of themes and formats that is to remain open. During the session, the section »Kulturwissenschaftliche Ästhetik« (Cultural-analysis Aesthetics) would additionally like to reflect on future joint events and the possibilities of promoting young researchers.