Europe and the Cultural Politics of Mediterranean Migrations
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CitationNicolaou, Argyro. 2018. Europe and the Cultural Politics of Mediterranean Migrations. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is a study of the representation of Mediterranean migrations in literature, film, and visual art. Through an analysis of a critical selection of creative works that respond to specific events of forced Mediterranean migration from antiquity to the present day, the dissertation examines displacement as a narrative, ethical, and aesthetic framework that bears testament to Europe’s longstanding interconnectedness to its southern and eastern Mediterranean neighbors. From ancient myths of Mediterranean displacements that have become foundational narratives of European civilization; to the less studied case of displacement of Europeans to the Middle East during World War II; the internal displacement of the Greek and Turkish populations of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus after the island’s division in 1974; and the recent refugee influx to Europe as it has been represented in contemporary film and visual art; the different events of forced Mediterranean migration examined put Europe’s 21st-century refugee question in a broader historical and cultural context, revealing different political, cultural, and geographical imaginaries of Europe.
Through an interdisciplinary analysis that combines literary criticism with methods from visual studies, history, cultural geography, anthropology, as well as political theory, this work contends that the first-hand experience of displacement has an effect on both the form and the content of literary and artistic works. This gives rise to an epistemology of displacement that offers new strategies of reading, writing, looking and interpreting, which inevitably resists dominant historical and political narratives that perpetuate North/South, West/East binaries. In light of the growing inadequacy of Euro-centric models of knowledge production to reflect on today’s world and the mass migrations that will continue to define it, this study proposes one possible way in which the humanities can think about fixed geopolitical and cultural categories through the moving, provisional perspective of the displaced. This model can be complemented by, applied, and adapted to other shared and contested geographical regions in the world, and the migrations that they give rise to.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41121244
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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