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9-12 September

'Glocal Imaginaries: Writing/Migration/Place' Conference, Lancaster University, and Whitworth Gallery, Manchester

CTMP staff Alan Grossman, Áine O’Brien and Rashmi Sawhney will be presenting at the forthcoming GLOCAL IMAGINARIES: WRITING/ MIGRATION / PLACE conference at Lancaster University, and the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, UK (9-12 September).

GLOCAL IMAGINARIES is the closing conference of the AHRC-funded research project 'Moving Manchester: How the experience of migration has informed the work of writers in Greater Manchester from 1960 to the present'. The increasingly complex relationship between the local and the global has emerged as one of the defining characteristics of contemporary Manchester writing and it is also one that, we trust, will be of topical concern to researchers and writers throughout the world and across a wide range of disciplines.

With an interest in both the material and imaginative (re) configuration of location, mobility and migration in the early twenty-first century, the conference invites papers from colleagues working in the fields of geography, sociology, anthropology, politics, linguistics and history, as well as literature and creative writing, and the conference will be 'streamed' in such a way that delegates are able to participate either within, or across, disciplines. Inasmuch as the 'Moving Manchester' project itself has focused upon the work of contemporary writers, literature and the creative arts will be an integral feature of the conference programme and culminate in a 'creative arts' day in Manchester (Saturday 12 September), which will feature readings, performances and an exhibition.

Conference strands include: The Glocal City (Darien Rozentals); Re-Writing Space and Place (Darien Rozentals); Queer G/localities (Jackie Stacey); G/local Mobilities (Allison Hui); G/local Diasporas (Lindsey Moore); G/local Economies (Sondra Cuban); Discourses of the G/local (Bethan Benwell); Moving Stories: Rewriting Space and Place; (Shirley Chew); Virtual Diasporas (Graham Meikle), Migration and Diaspora (Maggie O'Neill), The Black Atlantic (Alan Rice) and Gendering Diasporas (Anne-Marie Fortier).

Panel Abstracts

‘Multi-Mediated Engagements with New Publics and Communities in Ireland’ (Alan Grossman, Áine O’Brien and Glenn Jordan, University of Glamorgan)

This panel foregrounds in and through the practice of media production (film, animation and photography) an innovative series of cross-sectoral print and broadcast media projects between cultural theorists, media practitioners, migration NGOs and racialised minorities in Ireland. Through the presentation of multi-locale work conducted under the aegis of the Forum on Migration and Communications (FOMACS) with migrant, refugee and asylum communities, the panel contributions underscore contrasting methodologies honed in creative practice and ethnographic methods. FOMACS is a collaborative public media project comprising seven partners and extended networks reaching and engaging diverse audiences through the production of film, photographic, digital storytelling, radio, animation and print stories on the topic of immigration in Ireland and beyond. Led by the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, FOMACS partners comprise immigration and protection/asylum NGO organizations, together with the multicultural print and media outlet, Metro Eireann. The paper by anthropologist and cultural theorist Glenn Jordan presents the first systematic exploration of the Sikh presence on the island of Ireland, through the combined use of portraiture, life histories and ethnographic observation of the lived experiences and narratives of people often perceived as ‘Other’ by members of the general public – especially since 9/11. Drawing on the adaptation of an NGO archived case study, the director of FOMACS, Áine O’Brien, critically profiles an animated film series titled ‘Abbi’s Circle and its accompanying print media primary school ‘learning resource’, which jointly document, dramatise and communicate the complex question of immigrant ‘family reunification’. Abbi’s Circle renders audible and visible, what Roger Rouse (2002) calls the ‘transnational migrant circuit’ – spaces linked through familial, social and economic ties, comprising multiple yet interconnected networks and affiliations. Responding to the absence of ethnographic films engaging directly with the labour conditions, civic/political participation, daily rhythms and cultural practices of migrant subjects in Ireland, Alan Grossman’s paper reflects on his two co-directed feature-length films Here To Stay (2006) and Promise and Unrest (2009). The films comparatively narrate the stories of two non-EU Filipino economic migrants, their agential efforts at collective political mobilisation under the aegis of migration advocacy groups and trade unions, further addressing the translocalised expression of migratory aesthetic practices (Durrant and Lloyd 2007), and the gendered/classed contingencies of long-distance motherhood (Salazar Parreñas 2001). The paper advocates a critical and timely convergence between slow-paced, on the ground, longitudinal ethnographic inquiry, allied to a politicized documentary practice, informed by cultural studies methodologies, in response to accelerated and unprecedented in-migration into Ireland from Africa, Asia and eastern Europe during the past decade.

‘Bombay to Delhi: Relocating the Language of Modernity in Indian Cinema’ (Rashmi Sawhney)

The origins shaping cinema and the modern city hark back to transformations in our perceptions of time and space; transformations that, as Walter Benjamin (1969: 250) points out, are experienced by the person in the street in ‘big-city traffic’ and in the cinema. While most ‘third world’ cities must contain themselves with the position of ‘mega-cities’, that are not quite ‘global cities’ (Castells, 1998), the discourse through which such cities are imagined yield rich grounds for interrogating the dialectic between everyday experiences of modernity and the cinema. This paper addresses the popular imagination of Delhi in Indian cinema, a city that has in public discourse, been defined as ‘non-city’, particularly in the cinema, for which Bombay is by far, the city par-modernity (Kaarsholm, 2006). The cinematic (re)presentation of Delhi is read in the context of the increasing ‘saffronisation’ of Bombay; the geographical and historical place of Delhi on the one hand, as an ‘enclosed’, ‘national’ space usurped by state propaganda, and on the other, as a confluence of Islam and Hinduism, represented particularly through a thriving Sufi influence, and its architectural heritage. The paper argues that the very characteristics that situate Delhi outside global, or indeed national, conceptualisations of a city, lend themselves to the development of a cinematic language/form, which, in the Indian context, is able to present a fresh perspective on diversity and trans/national identity: key foundational frameworks of modernity. I focus in particular on two recent films by Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra - Delhi 6 (2009), and Rang De Basanti (2006) – to develop this argument, exploring the unevenness of content and ideology in these films as a manifestation of a specific modernity, shaped by history and location.

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