Events around the world ranging from climate change through war to ethnic cleansing have forced large numbers of people to leave home in search of a safer, better life. Europe has sometimes been welcoming but sometimes inhospitable. Even as it has removed some of its own internal borders, it has increasingly obstructed refugee flows. Patronising, objectifying, demonising and dehumanising representations of migrants and refugees have proliferated. We are urgently in need of images which remind us what a true hospitality might mean.
Addressing the Challenge
The project explored how film can be used to teach about hospitality in a European context. It developed a syllabus based on a rich and diverse range of European films, probing their capacity to challenge negative representations of migrants and refugees, to show migrants and refugees as subjects not objects, and to map contemporary practices of surveillance and bordering. The project began from the assumption that cinema has a particular capacity to track the relationship between bodies and spaces, to trace movements and obstacles to them, and to probe questions of visibility and invisibility, silencing and voice. As part of the project, a documentary film, The Sounds of Hospitality, about migrant musicians was made by Michel Gasco and Parisa Delshad. It can seen here.
The project is led by Professor Ana Manzanas from the University of Salamanca in Spain and brings together an international team of researchers from the universities of Graz (Austria), Maynooth (Ireland), Uppsala (Sweden), Valladolid (Spain) and the UNED (the Spanish equivalent of the OU). Professor Martin O’Shaughnessy leads Nottingham Trent’s involvement.
Making a Difference
The project produced a syllabus with 22 film analyses which can be accessed here. The syllabus will be made available in Spanish translation as a book. The project gave rise to outreach events or pedagogic presentations in Nottingham, Uppsala, Graz, Madrid and on-line. The Nottingham event brought together refugee support groups, teachers and the public and involved a public screening of Sharon Walia’s The Movement. The project own documentary was screened in 2020 as part of Nottingham Refugee Week.