[SydPhil] [Philosophy at UWS seminar] 29 October - Fiona Jenkins: Imagining Vital Borders

Philosophy@UWS Philosophy at uws.edu.au
Thu Sep 25 09:50:57 AEST 2014

Philosophy at UWS presents A Research Seminar with
Fiona Jenkins<http://uws.edu.au/philosophy/philosophy@uws/events/research_seminars_2014/fiona_jenkins>
Imagining Vital Borders

DATE/TIME: Wednesday, 29 October, 3.30pm-5.00pm (Please note a change of date due to unforeseen circumstances)

PLACE: University of Western Sydney, Bankstown Campus, Building 3, Room 3.G.27  [How to get to Bankstown Campus] http://www.uws.edu.au/campuses_structure/cas/campuses/bankstown
All welcome
ABSTRACT: (updated)
A passage through extra-legality seems inevitable in the context of flows of people, and in the condition of a border, as a place of transit, a place of change from one status to another. Throughout this paper, I am interested in how disturbances to the constituting imagination of borders might correspond with the capacity to re-generate the vitality of the political bodies they serve to enclose, revealing an exposed, desirous and unstable national citizenry. In particular, the paper explores modes of creative political engagement with the desire 'illegal' others have - or are pictured as having - to attain economic and political benefits in their passage to wealthy nations. Theoretically, one task of the discussion is to examine how far the terms of Judith Butler's recent work on the politics and potential of co-habitation might take us in thinking here.

The national border of wealthy nations is today most often figured as protecting a stable prosperity, an idealised state of national being that is in turn mapped onto the legal status of the citizen. Merging into one the figure of the 'asylum seeker' and the economic migrant, political discourse of recent times casts the desire to arrive at such a shore as deathly and threatening. At stake in this politics is an image of the state's power of self-determination, its self-protection as prosperous, and a corresponding refusal to seek terms of co-existence with those who press on borders, albeit often guised as humanitarian concern.

Yet as relations of desire and possession are together negotiated, policed, confirmed or undermined, other possibilities of engagement might open. Reading Casablanca (1942) and Welcome (2009) as two films exploring just that territory, the first in the context of WWII, the second in the context of the 'open borders' of the EU, I examine how the articulation of desire in these two films permits the asylum-seeker to be a lover and idealist, one who revitalises the political terms on which borders might be negotiated by exposing the intimate relationships of the protagonists to the extra-legal dimensions of romance, divorce, and infidelity. What forms of co-existence become possible on such terms? And how might they damage the aspirations of today's sovereign borders to carry the force of law by enclosing an insular prosperity?

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Siobhain O'Leary
Administration Coordinator, Philosophy Research Initiative
University of Western Sydney
Bankstown Campus Building 5
Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751
+61 2 9772 6190

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