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Border Elegies: Refugees, Migrants, and Contemporary Art and Literature

Thursday, October 25, 2018,

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  • Location: E. Bronson Ingram Studio Art Center • 1204 25th Avenue South • nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 220

Our twenty-first century has witnessed a tremendous rise in refugees and migrants. Whether they escape war, violence, and persecution, poverty and economic exploitation, or the precarious effects of climate change—more than 68 million people around the world today have been forced to leave precarious homes and search for safer havens. Half of them are under the age of 18, more than 10 million are considered stateless and have no access to basic rights of education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement. While many efforts have been made to address and accommodate the plight of today’s migrants and refugees, we at the same time observe widespread desires to erect metaphorical and physical walls to keep unwanted bodies at bay and protect the presumed integrity of sovereign nations and ethnic identities. Almost thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, the call for new walls, divisions, and fortifications has become the order of the day.

Organized in honor of Guillermo Galindo’s month-long residence at Vanderbilt University in October 2018, this symposium explores different artistic responses to the flow of refugees and the today’s politics of enclosure. Following the lead of Galindo’s work as a composer and installation artist on European refugee camps and the US-Mexican border wall, the speakers will review different aesthetic strategies to represent the current migration crisis; discuss how contemporary artists address the human rights implications of recent border control policies; and explore how poetic texts reflected on the migration of Cubans via sea to the US since the 1990s.



October 25, 2018

5 pm

Guillermo Galindo Performance @ Public Square, Downtown Nashville 


October 26, 2018

1:00 pm

Welcome and Introduction

Bonnie J. Dow, Dean of Academic Initiatives (Vanderbilt University)

Lutz Koepnick (Vanderbilt University)

1:30 – 2:15 pm

Nora M. Alter (Temple University)

“Beyond an Image: Strategies for Representing the Migration Crisis”

2:15 – 3:00 pm

Ayten Gundogdu (Barnard College)

“Amidst the Ruins of Personhood: Border Deaths and the Challenges of Representation in Law and Art”

3:15 – 4:00 pm

Candice Amich (Vanderbilt University)

“Lost at Sea: Cuban Migrant Poetics in the 21st Century”


4:15 – 5:00 pm

Roundtable Discussion

Moderator: Lutz Koepnick

Participants: Robert Barsky, Jonathan Hiskey, Paul Kramer (all Vanderbilt University)


6 pm

Performance: Guillermo Galindo Solo Performance @ Blair School of Music


All presentations and performances associated with this event are open to the public.

For questions, please contact: Lutz Koepnick (lutz.koepnick@vanderbilt.edu).