Centred as it is upon boats that are illicitly crossing, drifting or landing, the trope of migrants' invasion (Ghassan Hage) in the West is structured by gendered ‘figures of race’ (Gaia Giuliani 2018) that are based on ‘colonial’ and ‘national’ visual ‘archives’ (Ann Laura Stoler and Gloria Wekker). In colonial times, the image of the invasion legitimised imperial expansion sustaining discursively the physical and spatial containment of the colonised (Hage). In fact, the security of the colonial order, as a discourse and as a biopolitical practice, was based on the image of the Other's barbarity as endangering European Christianity and its social order: it was based on the myth of the bestiality of the colonised and the criminality of the racialised, and the related fantasy of the colonised to be saved from themselves. The securitisation of the colonial order (Stoler) was based on specific biopolitical practices, including bordering, that are mirrored unevenly in the present postcolonial order. I consider bordering semiotically, as a material and symbolic dispositif that, sustained as it is discursively by intersectional figures of race and the moral panic that these figures engender, mobilises and rearticulates them in function of an economy of signs and practices polarised between a gender- and age-based victimisation/compassion and monstrification/repression (Didier Fassin). As a semiotic dispositif, bordering is also sustained by specific racial and gendered power relations and predicated to the constant re-enactment of containment and value extraction from mobility that produces in its turn new power relations. In order to unravel the relation between colonial archives, bordering, and gendered images of the invasion, my talk will focus on an intersectional and postcolonial analysis of iconographies of disembarkation in the news and images that Italian printed and online media used to report about boat landings in Lampedusa.
Dr Monish Bhatia will be the discussant.
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