A Sensorial Archaeology of Undocumented Migration in the Mediterranean

General Programming

  • The Italian and Mediterranean Colloquium, Department of Italian
  • European Institute
  • Program in Hellenic Studies
  • Free and open to the public

How can we record, explore, and understand the materiality of the experience of forced and undocumented migration today? How can we communicate such work to scholars and to various publics? What kind of theoretical and methodological stances can we deploy, avoiding the instrumentalisation of the phenomenon for purely academic purposes, and the aestheticisation of an often painful and tragic experience? Yannis Hamilakis will explore these questions taking the Mediterranean, and especially its eastern shores as my main focus. He will propose a politically engaged scholarly practice which can combine solidarity and activist actions (including clandestine/“guerrilla” tactics) with academic research. He will claim that the purpose of such archaeology is primarily to focus sensorial and affective attention on the violence of forced migration, as well as on the active agency of the migrants themselves and of the things, places, landscapes and atmospheric features that compose the sensorial assemblage of migration. Furthermore, the engagement with the condensed, transient, and fluid materiality of migration does not relate simply to the archaeology of the contemporary. It also poses a huge challenge for archaeology in general, its entanglement with the colonial and national apparatus, and its epistemic and ethical/political assumptions

  • Guest Speaker Yannis Hamilakis Joukowsky Family Professor of Archaeology and Professor of Modern Greek Studies Brown University
  • Respondent Naor Ben-Yehoyada Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology Columbia University
  • Moderator Konstantina Zanou Assistant Professor of Italian Columbia University