The Power of Narratives: Demarcating Belonging with New Approaches

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A MWP Multidisciplinary Workshop
Organized by
Max Weber Fellows Aitana Guia (RSCAS 2015-2016) and Julija Sardelić (SPS 2014-2016)

Conference Room, Villa La Fonte, Via delle Fontanelle, 18 – San Domenico di Fiesole
16-17 MAY 2016


“Stories are  wondrous things. They  can  also  be  dangerous” said  Cherokee-Greek-American writer Thomas King in his renowned Massey Lectures ‘The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative’.

This  workshop explores how  narratives are  constructed, contested, shaped, and  reshaped; how some  narratives become hegemonic while  others are  abandoned and  eventually forgotten. Narratives can  be especially decisive when  they  contribute to demarcating who belongs to a certain community and  who is excluded from  it. This workshop looks  at  case studies in Europe, North America and  the Middle  East  and  focuses on how  new  narratives of belonging transform and  define the  boundaries between those included and  excluded. It explores to which  extent new  narratives are  being used to reinforce old exclusions and  whether new  narratives are  creating cleavages in societies that hitherto did not experience them.

New  discourses appealing to gender equality and  the  rights of sexual minorities, as  well  as  to the overall discourse on  human rights, are  increasingly being used, or  rather misused, to  label  and stigmatize certain marginalized minorities and  migrants, such  as those belonging to Muslim  and  Roma minorities. Concepts such  as  nativism and  autochthony are  increasingly being used to  explain transformations in the  contours of belonging in Europe and  beyond.

The workshop starts with  a critical analysis of how new xenophobic discourses addressing particularly Muslims, but  also  other migrants whether from  within or outside the  European Union.  It continues with   a  focus   on  narratives  mobilised to  make   sense  of  the   refugee  crisis  in  the   former Yugoslav  countries and  in  the  Middle  East. It  concludes with  a  focus  on  the  counter-hegemonic narratives of minority actors themselves and  how  they  try  to construct different narratives to make sense of the  migration phenomenon.

The workshop includes papers on changing narratives of ‘belonging’ and  how they  re-define outsiders and  recreate the  community of ‘We’.


16 MAY                         FIRST SESSION

09.30-11.00                      Chair: Julija  Sardelić | EUI

Whose  Story? – Narratives of Flight, Persecution and  Survival

Ruth Wodak | EUI

11.00-11.30                      Coffee  Break


11.30-13.00                      Chair: Anna  Triandafyllidou | EUI

New Narratives of the  ‘Refugee Crisis’ and  the  Reconfiguring of ‘Diversity Management’ in the  Post-Conflict Former Yugoslav  States

Julija  Sardelić | EUI

Competing Agendas of National Identity. Values, Narratives and  Contradictions to Determine Israel’s Asylum Regime

Shai Tagner | Ben-Gurion University and  University of Roma Tre

13.00-14.00                       Lunch


14.00-15.30                      Chair: Hans-Jörg Trenz  | EUI

Transnational Narratives of Fear and  Exclusion in Europe: How Do They Travel and  Where Do They Land?

Heather Grabbe | EUI

Why Do Nativist Narratives Prosper in Western Democracies and  Under Which Conditions They Wither?

Aitana Guia  | EUI

15.30-16.00                      Coffee  Break


16.00-18.00                      Chair: Aitana Guia  | EUI

White  Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and  Race

Gloria Wekker | Utrecht University


17 MAY                        NARRATIVES OF AUTOCHTONY

09.30-11.00                      Chair: Sabrina Marchetti | EUI

Reshaping Autochthony in Europe. Everyday Autochthony. Difference, Discontent, and  the  Politics of Home  in Amsterdam

Paul  Mepschen | University of Leiden

Why Do Migrant-Background Individuals Join an Anti-Immigration Party? Ethnicity, Class  and  Age in the  National Front (France)

Francesca Scrinzi | EUI

Narratives of Assimilation and  Resistance:Reclaiming Kurdish Identity in Diaspora

Barzoo Eliassi | Linneaus University and  Oxford  University

11.00-11.30                      Coffee  Break

11.30-12.30                      The  Power of Narratives: Promoting Interdisciplinary Conversations

12.30-13.30                       Lunch

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