Migration, Media, Archive: Speakers and Abstracts
Speakers and Abstracts

Steve Edwards
'Crowds and commons: figuring photography from above and below'’

In the light of the debate on the expropriation of the commons and 'accumulation by dispossession', I will look at the figuration of photography from 'above' and 'below'. I will explore the way in which the demonising terms for the 'multitude' or the 'motley proletariat', which emerged from the process of Atlantic capitalist formation from the seventeenth century, shaped thinking about photography at its inception. Here we will see that the dominant values associated with photography were orchestrated around images of workers, servants, women and slaves. This vision from above continues to inform thinking about photography. In contrast, I will consider recent documentary projects focused on anti-capitalist protests, by Allan Sekula and Joel Sternfeld (and possibly, Chris Marker), which have refigured these terms to suggest an emergent vision of the motley collective.

Áine O’Brien
‘Living archives of migration: collaborative politics and coalitional research’

Migration challenges the media practitioner, academic researcher and migrant rights advocate constructively to abandon their comfort zones; to both listen and look carefully to what is, in practice, a multifaceted and global phenomenon, necessitating genuine exchange and public dialogue across new and established sites of knowledge production on the subject of migration. This presentation will focus on the work of the Forum on Migration and Communications (FOMACS) in Dublin, Ireland. FOMACS is a media-driven programme producing print, photographic, broadcast and interactive stories on the topic of migration, with the aim of reaching and engaging diverse audiences. FOMACS brings immigrant and non-immigrant producers, NGO service providers/community activists and social and policy researchers into an innovative and collaborative working framework. The ambition of FOMACS is to follow the challenging pathways and social, cultural and political networks laid down by migrant workers, asylum seekers, refugees and their families. One of the aims of FOMACS is to design and maintain a ‘living archive’ of the present moment, making digitally accessible ongoing work for a range of interested publics.

Angela Dimitrakaki
‘Life after identity? Art and politics in the age of global capital’

Recent developments in a broad spectrum of representational practices, from political theory to art, compel us to examine the expressive potential of an emergent political consciousness that possibly de-stabilises received notions of so-called ‘identity politics’. Such departures are witnessed for instance in recent theorisations of resistance to the rule of global capital, including John Holloway’s Change the World without Taking Power and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire and Multitude. A parallel departure can be witnessed in radical art practice and theory, possibly informed by a certain disillusionment brought about by the institutionalisation and containment of work predicated on identity. This paper considers such developments in an effort to articulate the connections of contemporary art and its theories with the social struggles of our times.

Roshini Kempadoo
‘A fictional re-imagining of the Trinidad archive: amendments (2007)’

This presentation draws on the research work and creative practice of my thesis - Creole in the archive: imagery, presence, and location of the plantation worker of two plantations, nearby villages and towns in Trinidad (1838 – 1938). I introduce the multimedia artwork Amendments (2007) and the archive material and locations that inform it, to consider two aspects in researching the archive. The first aspect highlights the specific tendencies inherent in the Trinidad archive whose practices and contents have emerged from a colonial legacy and perspective. I comment on the limitations to the archive material and archival practices used to conserve material of colonial documents, plantation locations, and post-independent histories. Secondly, I present the artwork Amendments as enacting historical creolised practices of the majority population of Trinidad as descendants of the plantation worker. The plantation worker’s perspective is evoked using digital technologies and fictional narratives in which creolisation as cultural process and practice is proposed as a way of re-contextualisation and re-imagining historical material and locations.