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Operation Sunken Sea: Relocating the Mediterranean

18 May 2018

 Operation Sunken Sea: Relocating the Mediterranean 

 

Invested in the power of technology to generate a new future for humankind, ‘Operation Sunken Sea’ initiates a large-scale infrastructural intervention unparalleled in scale. A new era of human progress will be initiated through the draining and rerouting of the Mediterranean Sea to converge Africa and Europe into one supercontinent. The operation promises to bring an end to terrorism and the migration crisis, provide employment and energy alternatives and confront the rise of fascism, all of which pose profound existential threats to our future. The project instills a fervent movement towards technocracy which takes a proactive stance towards the reparation of Africa and the Middle East by relocating the Mediterranean Sea within the continent.


Expanding upon early twentieth century techno-utopian visions, ‘Operation Sunken Sea’ investigates the abundance to be acquired from the significant transformation of territorial constructs. It responds to the contemporary moment of political uncertainty in Europe, the unrest and collapse of nation-states in the Middle East, the neo-liberal failure of globalisation in Africa by shifting the paradigm in a time of neo-fascist necropolitics. The operation instigates enterprise, invention and ingenuity with a new vision for Africa and the Middle East. It pinpoints what could be attained by and for those most affected in the last century by the wars waged for oil, resources and power.

Heba Y. Amin is an Egyptian visual artist, researcher and lecturer. She teaches at Bard College Berlin, is a doctorate fellow in art history at Freie Universität and the co-founder of the Black Athena Collective. Furthermore, she is the curator of visual art for the MIZNA journal (US), and curator for the biennial residency program DEFAULT with Ramdom Association (IT). Furthermore, Amin is also one of the artists behind the subversive graffiti action on the set of the television series “Homeland” which received worldwide media attention.

Amin’s work is embedded in extensive research and a studio practice that looks at the convergence of politics, technology, and urbanism. Working with various media, her work critiques historiographies situated in contested territories. She is particularly interested in tactics of subversion and techniques used to undermine systems as well as topics surrounding critical spatial practice. Amin has an extensive repertoire in public speaking and has published several works. She lives and works in Berlin.

More details and updated infromation about the event may be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1294624477337455/

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Seminar by Prof. John Baldacchino

08 Mar 2018

Mediterranean Aesthetics and the Uncolonial

The next session on the Mediterranean Institute Seminar Series will be delivered by Professor John Baldacchino, Director of the Arts Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

In his seminar, Prof. Baldacchino will dwell on how one could approach Mediterranean aesthetics as an identifiable concept that is equally disputed and recognized by qualifying it from the context of what he terms the uncolonial. (see Baldacchino, 2018).

What Baldacchino means by the uncolonial implies a heterogeneous subjective economy that firmly rejects a homogeneous economy of subjects. Put another way, this economy (understood as a narrative of communions—οἰκονομία, oikonomía) carries a value structure that blows open the instrumental metric of a narrow financial system. It is also the very opposite of an economy of subjects in that the latter remains a communion homogenised by the colonial condition, even when it claims to have moved into a post-colonial sphere.

Tracing this on an aesthetic trajectory, Prof. Baldacchino will invite his audience to think of the possibility of a subjective economy that rejects colonial homogeneity by assuming an uncolonial position.

This raises several paradoxes and it is invariably characterized as aporetic. In fact, a subjective economy radically lays claim on identity as being plural and hybrid and thereby conducive to nothing less than a radical discourse. Characterized by the politics of aesthetics, this radical discourse is meant to reject the homogeneous economy of subjects by which colonialism is sustained. This explains why a meta-theoretical approach must go beyond those metrics by which we are more familiar when assessing a colonial state of affairs. 

The role of nostalgia is an aesthetic axel on which the Mediterranean imaginary rotates. However, as we seek to understand nostalgia, this needs to be done from the positions of (i) a hybridity of non-identitarian acts; operated (indeed, lived) by (ii) a heterogeneity of autonomous agents which move away from (a) the conservative myth of post-colonial apologetic nostalgia (what-has-been) (b) the reactionary politics of pre-colonial inventions and folkish false nostalgia (what-could-have-been) and (c) the anti-colonial pathos that is often characterized by a liberal-progressive form of ahistorical nostalgia (what-should-have-been). 

Prof. Baldacchino will argue that without such qualifications, the assumption of a Mediterranean aesthetics will not only be irrelevant, but dangerous. 

Unless the heterogeneity of a subjective narrative of communions is posed as a hybrid economy, the Mediterranean imaginary risks becoming reified into a form of aesthetized politics in whose roots one finds the violence, hatred and national-ethnic strife that has characterized the history of this region over centuries (see Baldacchino 2010).

John Baldacchino is Full Professor and Director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of the Arts. A graduate of the universities of Malta (B.Ed) and Warwick (MA and PhD) he held Senior and Faculty positions in Columbia University in New York, and the Universities of Dundee, Warwick, Falmouth and Robert Gordon in Britain. A specialist in art, philosophy and education, he is a practicing artist and an essayist. 

He is the author of many journal articles, reviews and catalogue essays, and journalistic contributions. To date he published ten books which include Education Beyond Education: Self and the imaginary in Maxine Greene’s Philosophy (Lang 2009); Makings of the Sea: Journey, Doubt and Nostalgia (Gorgias 2010), Art’s Way Out: Exit Pedagogy and the Cultural Condition (Sense, 2012) and John Dewey: Liberty and the Pedagogy of Disposition (Springer 2014). His is the editor of Histories and Philosophies. The Wiley-Blackwells Encyclopaedia of Art and Design Education (2018) and is completing three books in English and a volume in Maltese, all forthcoming in 2018.

You are cordially invited for drinks and refreshments after the Seminar. Entry to the Seminar is free of charge and open to the public. Students are especially encouraged to attend. 

To confirm attendance or ask for further information, kindly email the MI Seminar Convenor, Dr Norbert Bugeja at norbert.bugeja@um.edu.mt



Next Seminar by Prof. Jon P. Mitchell

19 Feb 2018

Mediterranean Deja-vu: a return to the classics in the anthropology of a region

The Mediterranean Institute is honoured to host the renowned anthropologist Prof. Jon Mitchell from the University of Sussex. Prof. Mitchell has worked extensively on the Anthropology Malta and the Mediterranean Region and he will be addressing a public talk on the return to the anthropology of the Mediterranean. 
 
For an anthropologist of Southern Europe, recent events in two countries bordering the Mediterranean – Malta and Spain/Catalunya – have a decidedly nostalgic feel. Debates about patronage, clientelism and corruption were central to the Mediterraneanist agenda of the 1960s and 70s, but fell out of popularity as attention was turned towards Europeanisation and the migration crisis. Nationalism and separatism emerged centre stage in the Europeanist agenda of the 1980s and 90s, but again this rather ebbed away after the Yugoslav wars to be replaced by multiculturalism and neo-nationalism as research agendas. In the case of both corruption and nationalist separatism, the consolidation of the European Union appeared to at least promise the possibility of their eradication, but the recent death of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, and the moves towards independence by the government of Catalunya have brought them back into the frame. This paper represents an attempt to think through the implications of these two sets of events, and how a return to more classical themes in the anthropology of the Mediterranean and Southern Europe might help us to understand them.

Refreshments will be provided after the Seminar. For booking purposes kindly send an e-mail to: isabelle.abela@um.edu.mt



Next Seminar

02 Feb 2018

PIONEERS OF THE 3S-ESCAPES: GEORGE SAND AND FREDRIC CHOPIN IN VALLDEMOSSA 

 

Dr Julia Szołtysek, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland

 

The Mediterranean Institute's Seminar Series is growing from strength to strength, and we're delighted our speakers are receiving such excellent response. Last Tuesday's seminar was delivered by Dr Ivan Grech to a full house and an enthusiastic audience. 

 

The next Seminar on the Series features an exciting talk by Dr Julia Szoltysek of the Department of Postcolonial Studies and Travel Literatures at the University of Silesia in Katowice. (Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1531440470271257/)

 

When in November 1838 Georges Sand, her two children and the ailing Frederick Chopin reached the port in Palma de Mallorca, they felt they had made it to paradise – or had at least played a trick on Parisian spleen, successfully running away from late Autumn drizzle and gloom. Sun, palms, shimmering sea, magnificent architecture – all seemed to promise a very welcome change of scene. Unfortunately, reality quickly caught up with them, and the travellers soon had to brave not only the elements, but also the locals’ hostile attitude, who saw the extravagant couple as a serious threat to the orderliness (and health) of their community. No sooner had they returned from the nearly fatal journey than Georges Sand had her revenge – in 1841 she published A Winter in Majorca in which she did not mince her words when venting her grudges and describing the Mallorcans as ‘monkeys’ and ‘barbarians.’

 

In her presentation, Dr Szoltysek will look at A Winter in Majorca from the perspective of contemporary tourism and the ever more popular winter escapes to warmer climes, assuming that Sand and Chopin indeed played a pioneering part in the development of the trend. The argument will not, however, focus directly on the adventures (or calamities and mishaps) of the two artists, offering instead a tentative analysis of the phenomenon, inherent in contemporary tourism and the machinery of the ‘holiday industry.’

 

Although it is hard not to perceive Sand’s account otherwise than as a vicious (but wittily ironic, too) attack on the island’s inhabitants, the mountain town of Valldemossa turned A Winter in Majorca into its major export good, using it to advertise the place among musically inclined tourists (or travellers?) from all over the world. Sand’s ‘ignoble’ work was translated into over a dozen languages and can be easily purchased on virtually every corner of the town (unlike Robert Graves’s works, who lived in Majorca for several decades, not far from Valldemossa). 

 

With recourse to modern travel discourses, as well as theories of denial and abjectification, Dr Szoltysek will attempt to explore and investigate the mechanisms which helped turn Sand’s venomous text into a peculiar ‘labour of love’ and a tribute to Majorca, and at the same time – a strategic and effective business tool. 

Thursday February 15 at 6PM. Entry is free of charge and open to the public. Students are encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be served after the event.

 

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The Journal of Mediterranean Studies available online

26 Jan 2018


 




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