19-20 September 2024

The University of Warwick

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Kay Dickinson (University of Glasgow)

Dr. Barbara Spadaro (University of Liverpool)

The phenomenon of economic migration has millennia-old roots. However, in recent decades, especially since the advent of decolonisation movements and the globalisation of the economic sphere, migration has increasingly been viewed as a predominantly socio-economic occurrence (Mezzadra and Neilson, 2013). Lack of primary resources (water, minerals, land), pollution, political instability, war, lack of employment opportunities, and climate change are all contributing factors to the movement of people.

In particular, the Mediterranean has been at the focus of visual representations narrating its heterogenous mobilities. From ancient representations of Aeneas’ peregrinations, up to the recent proliferation of images of small boats arriving on Europe’s shores, visual representations of migration in the Mediterranean have shaped imaginaries of human mobility (Chambers 2008; Solera 2017). In the context of the ‘visual turn’ and the increasing presence of social and mass media, the conference explores visual narratives and representations of migration within – and beyond – the Mediterranean Sea. We will unravel how visual narratives of migration (such as paintings, photographs, performances, documentaries, features and short films, and comics) may foster alternative visions and shape different imaginaries of the heterogenous issues grounding migratory phenomena. We will bring together an interdisciplinary network of scholars and practitioners to examine how this extensive production of visual narratives works to reconfigure socioeconomic and political challenges through diverse representations of the intimately human experiences of displaced subjects and migrants. The conference’s key concepts include, but are not limited to: the Mediterranean area and seascape; migration; affective and existential precarity; migrant labour; social inclusion; economic (in)equality.

Several studies and conferences have addressed the relationship between narratives and migration in terms of their target medium (predominantly literary), scope (either immigration or emigration), and chronological timeframe (specific centuries). Our conference aims to offer an original perspective by specifically considering migration in terms of visual aesthetics, by spotlighting the Mediterranean area as a crucial point for the intersection of departures, arrivals, and crossings. Ultimately, we welcome underinvestigated analogies between migrations from the Global South to the European shores of the Mediterranean and the many internal diasporas which have historically characterised Southern Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa (Venturini 2004; Dickinson 2016; Ricucci 2017; Eichhorn 2019).

We invite various academic approaches (sea and oceanic studies, migration studies, European and Mediterranean studies, gender studies, cultural studies, aesthetics, critical theory, among others) as well as contributions from practitioners and artists operating in/through different visual media. In its interdisciplinary approach, the conference aims to bring together scholars, visual artists, filmmakers, cartoonists, performers, photographers, writers.

The conference will focus on a series of questions including (but not limited to):

  • How may visual narratives such as visual art and performance, films, photographs, and comics differ from the ubiquitous images of migration in media such as television, social networks, and newspapers?
  • To what extent may they produce alternative and more inclusive visions of the economy and society? Which audiences may they reach?
  • Do visual narratives adequately address the links between work and migration?
  • What is the agency of migrants in the development of new forms of visual media and their intersection with immaterial and material labour?
  • What role does a space of both dispersion and conjunction such as the Mediterranean Sea have in the circulation of these visual narratives?

Paper proposals

We welcome proposals in English for 30-minute papers. Please send an abstract (400-500 words) and a short bio (150 words) to lostfutures@warwick.ac.uk, subject “Conference in Search of Lost Futures”. The deadline to propose a paper is 22 March 2024. Notification of acceptance will be communicated by the end of April 2024.

The conference will take place at the University of Warwick, Coventry (UK). Selected contributions will be considered for publication in a special issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of European Studies.

Contact Information

Jacopo Francesco (University of Warwick)

Silvia Vari (University of Warwick)